Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas this week signed a secret cooperation agreement with President Bashar Assad, debkafile reveals here for the first time from its exclusive military and intelligence sources. They concluded the deal unbeknownst to US Secretary of State John Kerry, shortly before he sat down in Rome Wednesday, Oct. 23, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss West Bank security arrangements and administer a push to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Our sources reveal that Abbas, the first Arab leader to break ranks with the united Arab front against Assad, was also the first to deal with the Syria ruler on behalf of a minority fighting against the Damascus regime, i.e. the Palestinians.
Abbas signed a pledge that Palestinian fighters would withdraw from Syrian rebel ranks, lay down their arms and undertake to end their challenge to the Syrian president and his army.
The Abbas-Assad deal may bear on American and Russian efforts to convene Geneva 2 for a political solution of the Syrian conflict on Nov. 23. The Palestinian desertion from the Syrian opposition front alters its internal balance and may change the minds of some of the Syrian opposition groups which planned to boycott the conference.
Our sources confrm that the Palestinian leader made his move behind American backs. Kerry apparently went into his meeting with Netanyahu in Rome ignorant of what was afoot.
Assad too acted without the knowledge of his Iranian and Hizballah allies. Suspicions that something was up between Damascus and Ramallah started stirring only Tuesday night, Oct. 22.
Also Tuesday night, the draft of the accord signed in Damascus was delivered to Ramallah by the personal helicopter of Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ensor. He arrived too together with Abbas’s special emissary to Damascus, who had signed the document in the name of the PA chairman.
DEBKA Weekly’s coming edition out Friday carries exclusive coverage of how the secret deal was negotiated between the Palestinian leader and the Syrian president and its terms. To subcribe to DEBKA click here.