Flaming row between Palestinian PM and US general puts security cooperation at risk

According to debkafile‘s military sources, a loud shouting match erupted Sunday, Dec. 6, between Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad and US Gen. Keith Dayton, who is in charge of training 2,000 Palestinian commandos as the Palestinian Authority first ever effective security force.
The quarrel is serious enough to hang a question mark over US-Palestinian-Israel cooperation in the campaign against Hamas and other terrorist organizations.
Our sources report exclusively that Sunday, Dec. 6, Fayad took advantage of the Mahmoud Abbas, the PA chairman’s chronic absence from the country, to summon the general to his office in Ramallah to order him to stop issuing press statements about the new Palestinian West Bank force. “You’re just the trainer, that’s all,” he said to the four-star American general.
The two were soon at it hammer and tongs.
Washington has invested $260 million in the establishment, training and equipment of the new Palestinian National Security Force. A small task force of American, British and Canadian instructors, commanded by Gen. Dayton, act as the high command for the force’s officers and men. Egypt supplied firearms with US financing.
Deployed in Hebron, Jenin and Nablus, the new force represents a major, if not the only success, of Washington’s Palestinian policy: in a relatively short time, this core element of US-Israeli Palestinian security and intelligence cooperation on the West Bank, has succeeded in imposing law and order in the streets of the main Palestinian towns: for the first time, they are safe and clear of terrorists.
But it is not popular on the Palestinian street, which calls the new army “Dayton’s men.”
The same stigma is attached to prime minister Fayyad, who is seen as an American puppet.
debkafile‘s Palestinian sources report that Fayyad decided to take advantage of Abbas’ long absences to establish his credentials as a Palestinian leader and the new force’s credibility as a Palestinian force.
Hence the showdown with the US commander.
The row puts Gen. Dayton in an awkward position. Although he carries out his West Bank duties in mufti, he is a military man who may not publicly react to his putdown by the Palestinian prime minister. So the case now rests with secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
He is however at liberty to get up and leave. The general has served the Palestinians for four years, well beyond the time allotted for his mission. If he decides to go, the only military force competent to secure the Palestinian Authority, after it was painfully created at great cost, is bound to fall apart.

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