New chief of Palestinian security forces vows to ‘build a professional army’

Special to

RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority has begun to reshuffle its
security command.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has issued orders to replace several longtime
security commanders. The move included the resignation
of the commander of the National Security Forces, the paramilitary unit of
the PA.

The Palestinian Authority National Security Forces have a new commander in Maj. Gen. Nidal Abu Dukhan. /AP/Hatem Moussa

On Dec. 26, Abbas appointed Maj. Gen. Nidal Abu Dukhan as the new commander of NSF, with nearly 10,000 troops. Abu Dukhan replaced Brig. Gen. Diyab Al Ali, in the post since 2007 and long past the mandatory PA security force retirement age of 60.

“Al Ali was appointed as adviser to the president on military affairs and was awarded the Jerusalem Star medal, the highest Palestinian award,” the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, said.

Al Ali, appointed general, was regarded as the PA commander closest to the United States. The State Department has overseen the development of NSF as well as the Presidential Guard.

Abu Dukhan, who headed military intelligence, was sworn in at NSF headquarters in Ramallah. The new commander said he would continue Al Ali’s
policy, which included the development of 10 battalions trained in Jordan in
a project funded by Washington.

“We will build on these achievements with more success, and we will
build a professional army that will be able to protect our national gains and
guarantee that Palestinian citizens live in dignity,” Abu Dukhan said.

Palestinian sources said the United States quietly urged Abbas to
replace Al Ali, now around 70, as early as 2009. They said then-U.S.
security coordinator Keith Dayton had proposed Brig. Gen. Mustafa Jayousi,
Abbas’s military adviser, as the next NSF commander.

Instead, Abbas appointed Jayousi as head of the Supreme Security
Coordination Committee, meant to serve as the main liasion in security
cooperation with Israel. Jayousi, promoted to full general, replaced
committee chief Maj. Gen. Qais Makhzoumi in a ceremony in Ramallah on Jan.

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