Ramallah is in upheaval over allegations by two high Palestinian opposition leaders that the CIA spied on their private electronic communications on behalf of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. They are demanding that the attorney general launch an investigation into their allegations and prosecute the culprits. The officials are Tawfiq Tirawi, who was until 2008 head of the Palestinian security apparatus, and Jawad Obeidat, Chairman of the Palestinian bar association. They claim that a 37-page document, which has just begun making the rounds on Palestinian social media, reveals that the CIA set up a secret monitoring center in Ramallah, on behalf of Abbas. This document was penned by an unnamed individual, who identified himself as a Palestinian security service agent employed at the secret surveillance center.
Tirawi and Obeidat say the center was set up to keep track of Palestinians posing a security threat. But instead, they found in the document transcripts of their own private conversations and evidence of of political espionage recorded in thousands of phone calls by judges, security officials and politicians, some of them fans of Mahmoud Abbas and others, rivals. DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources say that this scandal reveals how deeply the 82-year old PA chairman’s grip on power in Ramallah depended on the US spy agency. The disclosure, coming as it has just after Abbas cut off his ties with Washington and declared war on Donald Trump’s Jerusalem policy and peace effort, will have the effect of a time bomb on his already waning popularity in the Palestinian community.