Israeli and Palestinian security officers are exploring the possible formation of a new Palestinian militia to take charge of enforcing law and order in the Arab districts of Jerusalem and halting the anti-Israel terrorist attacks emanating from those districts.
debkafile’s intelligence sources disclose that the dialogue is led by senior Israeli Shin Bet and police officials and the Palestinian General Intelligence (Mukhabarat) chief Maj. Gen. Majid Faraj.
Our sources cannot confirm that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or other top officials, such as Public Security Minister Gilead Erdan, are fully in the picture, but it will certainly have been brought to their notice.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is kept up to date.
The plan was first broached in top Israeli police circles, who first asked the Shin Bet and IDF if they had any objections to the creation of a special local Palestinian force or militia, whose members would serve under the orders of the Israeli Police, with a status similar to that of Jerusalem Arab permanent residents, who serve in the local police force.
The new militia would undertake responsibility for maintaining order and security in the Palestinian districts of East Jerusalem, and a commitment to prevent the continuation of terror attacks from the districts under their authority.
This plan gained rapid momentum in recent days over concerns on both sides over the rapidity with which the Islamic Sate was gaining adherents in Palestinian communities.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott disclosed this week that an estimated 14-16 percent of Palestinians support ISIS – the highest proportion in the Arab world, where the average is no more than 5-6 percent.
In a little-noticed incident on Dec. 3, 2015, a Palestinian General Intelligence officer called Mazen Aribe, 37, suddenly turned his official rifle on Israeli soldiers. After he injured two, their comrades shot him dead.
Investigators of the incident later confirmed that it bore the hallmarks of an ISIS attack.
Aribe, who happened to be the nephew of the senior Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat, was a highly respected intelligence officer and a loyal supporter of his boss, the a/m Maj. Gen. Faraj. His sudden turn to violence against Israeli troops set off alarm bells in the Palestinian intelligence services as well as the Shin Bet and Israeli police.
The progress of the talks for establishing the new force, since named the “Palestinian Popular Police for East Jerusalem,” can be measured by Israel’s consent to extend “a measure of autonomy” for certain administrative municipal appointments for its areas of control, provided their work is fully coordinated with Israeli government and municipal authorities.
The discussions cover the Palestinian-populated districts of North Jerusalem – Shoafat, Hizme and Beit Hanina – and the two big refugee camps at Shoafat and Anata. Many of the recent terrorist attacks against Israelis were perpetrated in the last four months by dwellers of these sections of Jerusalem.
The Old City and the Palestinian villages of Issawiya, A-Tur and Jabal Mukabar have not been covered in the bilateral security discussions.
Gen. Faraj is the live wire promoting the initiative. He is motivated most of all by the opportunity for his agency to gain a foothold in East Jerusalem. For decades, Israel has consistently blocked Palestinian attempts to establish their ruling bodies in its capital.
While the two negotiating parties formally agree to the new militia coming under Israel’s security services, its day-to-day operations will effectively be subject to Faraj’s intelligence agency.
In recent interviews, Faraj has made a point of stressing that cooperation between Israel’s army and Shin Bet and Palestinian security forces remains solid and must continue, notwithstanding the current wave of Palestinian terror.
He also claims that his officers have thwarted 200 terrorist attacks and their detention of 100 would-be terrorists with large arms caches, had foiled several more.
Faraj is clearly doing his utmost to bring to Israel’s attention the efficacy of the forces under his command and, by the same token, how valuable the new militia would be as a security, anti-terror asset for the city.
debkafile’s counterterrorism sources note that the realization of the new Palestinian Police Force project – if it does get the green light in Jerusalem – would crown the four-month Palestinian knife intifada with a huge achievement, which has long proved elusive – the Palestinians would plant their first security footholds in the Arab neighborhoods of Israel’s capital. This would no doubt also provoke a flaming controversy on Israel’s political scene.