<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> WorldTribune.com: Mobile U.S. commitment to statehood a cash proposition for Palestinian commanders

U.S. commitment to statehood a cash proposition for Palestinian commanders

Saturday, May 31, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

RAMALLAH The United States has been transferring millions of dollars in cash to Palestinian Authority commanders as 2009 deadline for a Palestinian state looms. The transfers are part of an effort to rapidly take over security responsibility from Israel in the West Bank.

PA sources said U.S. representatives responsible for the development of the PA security forces have been mentoring Palestinian commanders. They said senior PA commanders have received at least tens of thousands of dollars each from the United States for high-profile operations meant to demonstrate the PA security commitment.

"Every major operation is preceded and concluded by cash transfers to Palestinian commanders at a variety of levels," a PA security source said. "Some of these commanders have already become rich just over the last six months alone."

The sources said PA commanders have quietly acknowledged that their forces were unprepared to battle dissidents of the Fatah movement as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. But they said U.S. security coordinator Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton has been pressuring the PA to demonstrate its ability to take over security responsibility from Israel throughout the West Bank.

The result, the sources said, have been several well-publicized PA troop deployments in Jenin and Nablus over the last six months. The sources said in each case, the PA undertook one or two operations, attended by the Israeli and foreign media, to tout Palestinian security capabilities.

"When the cameras left, the security situation returned to what it had been before," another security source said. "But the PA commanders received envelopes full of U.S. dollars."

In Nablus, the sources said, discipline has declined as officers outnumber soldiers. They said 300 officers and 200 soldiers have been deployed in Nablus since late 2007.

In Jenin, the PA deployed 600 National Security Force and Presidential Guard troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Suleiman Umran. The troops, the sources said, were rushed from a training program in Jordan to battle suspected Palestinian insurgents, and in their first operations began shooting civilians.

"It was chaos," a PA security officer recalled. "At one point, field officers called the commander and said one of the shot civilians was dying. The commander said 'Let him die. I don't care.' Another officer with the commander learned that this man was his cousin and began shouting at the commander to take the injured man to the hospital."

The sources said the PA has replaced most of its command structure with those loyal to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. They said this has alienated many veteran commanders who have resisted Fayyad's authority.

"Dayton has helped install a whole new set of commanders who are loyal to the United States and by extension Fayyad," a PA security source said. "The old guys are gone and the new commanders get paid for each operation that satisfies Dayton."

Over the last month, PA National Security Adviser Maj. Gen. Jibril Rajoub retired amid a dispute with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. General Intelligence director Col. Tawfiq Tirawi, who rejected Fayyad, has been sidelined and no longer has direct control over PA security.

In May, Rajoub criticized Abbas, saying the PA chairman lacked vision. Palestinian sources said PSA commanders have received money to follow Fayyad's orders and maintain independence from Rajoub.

"The entire effort is built on getting paid your bonuses," the source said. "One commander has already received $250,000, enough to buy a house."

British and French intelligence agencies have been helping in the effort to enhance PA security forces. The sources said British and French intelligence have been training GI in 2008.

"There has been a serious expansion of Western intelligence in the West Bank," a PA security officer said.

Under the U.S. effort, 8,000 PA officers over age 45 were given early retirement. The sources said many of them, fearing a loss of status, begged to remain on the force for half their salary.

The sources said the dismissed officers have been deemed a threat to Fayyad. On May 25, security guards foiled a purported attempt to assassinate Fayyad when a man was arrested with an envelope filled with a highly-toxic poison at Fayyad's office in Ramallah. Two security guards who handled the envelope were hospitalized.

"A rash spread on the guards skin after they attempted to open the suspect envelope, and they were transferred to a hospital immediately," Fayyad aide Jamal Zaqut said. "Then, they were discharged later and the envelope was sent to laboratory for tests."

To see these two men honored by President Bush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom was shocking. They both deserved major reprimands and removal from their posts, rather than medals. Their effrontery has no bounds evidenced when each produced a book seeking to absolve themselves of blame. Both have since been hooted off the stage by the reading public.

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