Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas kicked off preparations for a fresh outbreak of anti-Israel "resistance" – which concerned US and Israeli security circles believe will develop into "Intifada No. 3" – Tuesday, Dec. 27, by suddenly firing, the West Bank's top security officer Maj. Gen. Diab el-Ali. He did not notify US Lt. Gen. Michael R. Moeller, the American Security Coordinator between Israel and the PA appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Israel's military coordinator, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, of this step which caught them unawares.
Palestinian military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Nidal Dokhan, was appointed to replace Maj. Gen. el-Ali.
debkafile's military sources in Washington and Jerusalem report that in both capitals, the Palestinian leader's action is seen as paving the way for radical changes in West Bank security. This fragile edifice was kept stable for some years thanks to joint US-Israeli-Palestinian efforts to back up peaceful relations between the Palestinians and Israel after the bloody years of the "Al Aqsa Intifada" terror.
Abbas (Abu Mazen) has now decided to upset this equilibrium by orchestrating an Arab Spring-style uprising on the West Bank, the differences being that the Palestinians will not rise up against their own leaders, i.e., himself, but against Israel, and that in no time this event is liable to revert to the "intifada"-style Palestinian terrorist violence of the early 2000s.
Four actions leading up to these steps have aroused trepidation:
1. Abbas's deal in Cairo last week with the extremist Hamas leader Khaled Meshal is one. The two rivals agreed that notwithstanding their differences they would go forward on common objectives.
For example, Meshaal sought the resurgence of armed resistance against Israel which Abbas opposes. They compromised on a "popular resistance" campaign of protracted mass demonstrations which would smash through the defense barrier dividing the West Bank from Israel, knocking over IDF checkpoints and storming en masse into Israel. The "demonstrators" would also march on and burst into Jewish civilian settlements.
2. For this campaign to succeed, it is necessary to redefine the functions of the eight Palestinian commando battalions of the Palestinian National Security Forces-PNSF, soon to be joined by two more just ending their training in Jordan.
The PNSF was created and is funded by the United States, while British and Jordanian military instructors train its 8,000 combatants.
To make sure the Palestinian "uprising" does not turn against the Palestinian Authority and himself, Abbas will place these military battalions at the forefront of the mass demonstrations. They are to lead the throngs to their points of confrontation with Israel.
The PA chairman is therefore highhandedly retooling the armed Palestinian force, which was painstakingly created by the United States, to make it a hammer for confronting Israel's armed forces and civilians on both sides of the Green Line.
3. Abbas fired Gen. Diab el-Ali because he worked productively with the American coordinating unit for four years, from the day the first battalion was formed. His successor Maj. Gen. Dokhan is regarded in Western security circles as a shadowy figure of the undercover world.
The difference between them is that while Gen. Diab el-Ali is trusted in Washington and Jerusalem as genuinely and uncompromisingly willing to combat an upsurge of terror and Hamas extremism on the West Bank, the same cannot be said of the new man. Gen. Dokhan maintains good relations with US and Israel officers but also stands well with the heads of the radical Hamas and Jihad Islami.
Neither US nor Israeli commanders would risk sharing sensitive intelligence with him lest it reach the wrong hands. His appointment therefore as the senior officer on the West Bank is seen as the beginning of the end of the successful military and intelligence cooperation the US crafted between Israel and the Palestinian Authority for combating West Bank terrorism and presaging the return of the pro-terror Palestinian organizations.
This is what Khaled Meshaal was driving at Tuesday, Dec. 27, when he said his accord with Mahmoud Abbas had ushered in a new era of Palestinian cooperation after "Hamas forces on the West Bank were eradicated in recent years."
4. In intensive consultations this week, debkafile's sources report that US and Israeli security officials were of the opinion that the security changes Abbas is molding will have the effect of destroying the security stability the West Bank has enjoyed under US-backed Palestinians Authority rule. After opening the door to the radical Palestinian organizations, the PA will soon lose control as Hamas and Jihad Islami ride into the enclave's towns and villages. Any demonstrations will soon get out of hand and descend into violent turmoil.
At the same, time, those security officials estimate that it will take Abbas up to two months to remodel the Palestinian PNSF for its newly designated mission.