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Tuesday, November 24, 2009     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israel's military, security providing protection for Palestinians' Abbas

TEL AVIV — Security sources said Israel has been protecting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and that Abbas is not complaining about the arrangement.   

The sources said the Israeli military and security services maintain a constant watch over the 74-year-old Palestinian leader. They said the military and the Israel Security Agency have been directed to treat Abbas as a strategic asset to Israel who must be protected at virtually any cost.

"Abbas is considered to be nearly as important as Israeli leaders," a security source said.

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The sources said Abbas receives protection by the Israeli military in Ramallah and during his travel throughout the West Bank. They said the PA chairman receives a military escort when he leaves Ramallah, with the ISA on alert for any Palestinian assassination attempt.

In October 2009, Abbas came under unprecedented criticism from Palestinians and Arabs for his decision to shelve a United Nations report that charged Israel with war crimes. The sources said the criticism caused Abbas to fear for his physical safety.

"There has been no reports of plots against Abbas, but the atmosphere has been volatile," another security source said.

The sources said Israel's protection of Abbas was welcomed by the PA chairman and the Palestinian leadership. They said the PA has acknowledged that it could not thwart threats against Abbas and his senior ministers without Israeli help.

Over the last 18 months, the PA has enhanced its security forces through a U.S.-financed training program. But they said the U.S. effort, focused on the National Security Forces, has not significantly improved intelligence on potential threats to the Palestinian regime in Ramallah.

For his part, Abbas has insisted that he would resign from the PA as well as the PLO. Abbas aides said the resignation could take place over the next three months.

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