Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas has overturned his Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s order to slow down the PA’s security cooperation with Israel, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources reveal.
Shtayyeh, by profession an economist, has been trying since his appointment as Palestinian prime minister five months ago to assert his position as future successor to the octogenarian leader Abbas (Abu Mazen). Last week, he summoned heads of the Palestinian intelligence and security services and instructed them to stop meeting with their Israel counterparts for coordinating efforts to keep the peace. He explained that coordination should continue – but without the meetings.
Israeli security sources warned in response that this step would not only hamper the current give-and-take between the services and disrupt their counter-terrorism efforts, but it would remove the restraints holding back Abu Mazen’s own Palestinian rivals from malign activities.
As soon as he heard about Shtayyeh’s directive, Abbas urgently summoned the PA’s security and intelligence chiefs and told them to ignore it. To his associates he stressed that matters of security were outside the prime minister’s remit and his exclusive province. The restoration of the former situation was welcomed by Israel’s military and intelligence officials.
Last month, PM Shtayyeh proposed separating the PA from the Israeli shekel and replacing it with a Palestinian national cryptocurrency. This step would have deprived Israel’s central bank of revenue from the shekel’s currency in Palestinian areas under the 1994 Paris Protocol, which allows the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA) to act in the capacity of a central bank but not to print its own currency. It was agreed that the shekel would be the official currency for all transactions.
The Palestinian prime minister’s proposal never took off either.
In recent weeks, Abu Mazen is more sensitive than ever on matters of security and intelligence as he sees mounting efforts by his personal rivals to grab positions of authority. After a long absence, agents of Abbas’ veteran rival, Muhammed Dahlan – once the strongman of Gaza – are again dabbling in Ramallah. Dahlan is reported by our sources to have established ties with his foremost foe, Jibril Rajib, another contender for the Abbas throne, and providing him with funds for his activities.
Dahlan, who during his years in exile developed a flourishing business empire, was sighted of late commuting between Yugoslavia, Austria and Abu Dhabi, while wheeling and dealing in business ventures, mostly arms transactions. His chief partner is Muhammed Rashid, a financial wizard, who was a close adviser to the late Yasser Arafat.