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Monday, October 26, 2009     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Report: Palestinian security cohesion improves but assist to Israel could boost Hamas

TEL AVIV — The Palestinian Authority has have expanded security cooperation and coordination according to a report by a leading Israeli strategic institute.   

The Institute for National Security Studies said the cooperation was led by a new cadre of security commanders appointed since 2007, Middle East Newsline reported.

"They cooperate with one another and coordinate security activity with Israel," the report, titled "Palestinian Duality: Territories, Governments, Agendas Strategic Assessment," said.

Authored by a former Israeli military intelligence officer, [Ret.] Col. Ephraim Lavie, the report said the cooperation has been urged by the United States, led by security envoy Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton. The report said the PA effort has helped battle the Hamas opposition in the West Bank.

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"In the past year, the PA, through its security apparatus trained by U.S. security coordinator Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, increased its control of Hamas' social, religious, political and military activities in the West Bank," the report said. "Young, professional, determined commanders have been appointed to lead the PA's security apparatus."

Despite the heightened cooperation, Lavie said, the PA has been unable to threaten the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. But the new PA commanders quietly helped Israel during its war with Hamas in early 2009 by maintaining order in the West Bank.

"Indeed, concerns over the PA's survivability and the vitality of the security apparatus have sharpened the motivation among these commanders toward efficacy and professionalism," the report said. "This was evident during Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip, when the security services continued to operate against Hamas on the West Bank, which included arresting activists, and did not respond to Hamas' demand to halt security coordination with Israel."

But the report did not envision a long-term security cooperation between Israel and the PA. Lavie said PA Prime Minister Salam Fayad, a key element in the cooperation effort, lacked popular support and has no standing in Fatah.

The PA and its security forces could come under attack by Palestinians critical of Israel's failure to facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state or the removal of the Jewish presence from the West Bank. The report said this could lead to the resurgence of Hamas.

"A process of this nature, along with the fact that the Fayad government lacks broad popular support, may enhance Hamas' relevance as an alternative and increase the danger of a renewed outbreak against Israel," the report said. "In these circumstances, Fatah and Hamas might well find it in their interests to pool their efforts and cooperate against Israel."

The report cited several new PA commanders. They included Civil Police chief Brig. Gen. Hazem Atallah, former police commander Kamal Al Sheik, General Intelligence Services chief Majid Faraj and Preventive Security Apparatus commander Ziyad Hab Al Rieh.

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