Gregg Carlstrom / Al Jazeera & David Poort / Al Jazeera – 2011-01-26 01:29:59
‘The Palestinian Papers’:
MI6 Offered to Detain Hamas Figures
Gregg Carlstrom / Al Jazeera
The “Rendition Plan”
(January 25, 2011) — The Palestine Papers reveal that the British government played a significant role in equipping and funding the Palestinian security forces, several of which have been linked to torture and other abuses.
More unbelievably, the UK’s MI-6 intelligence service proposed detaining members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an extraordinary — and illegal — scheme in which the European Union would have paid for their detention.
Under the heading “degrading the capabilities of the rejectionist groups,” the MI-6 document suggests:
“… the disruption of their leaderships’ communications and command and control capabilities; the detention of key middle-ranking officers; and the confiscation of their arsenals and financial resources held within the Occupied Territories. US and — informally — UK monitors would report both to Israel and to the Quartet. We could also explore the temporary internment of leading Hamas and PIJ figures, making sure they are welltreated, with EU funding.”
An appendix to the document outlines how the British government might help the Palestinian Authority. It includes British plans to seize firearms and rockets from the West Bank and Gaza; to cut off funding to “rejectionist groups” like Hamas; and to reduce weapons smuggling through tunnels into Gaza.
Funding for the PA
It is difficult to say which of these ideas were actually put into practice. But two subsequent documents from the following year suggest that, at the very least, the British government provided funding for Palestinian security forces.
A document from the British foreign office provides “a synopsis of the project work that the UK is engaged in with the Palestinian Security Forces.” It documents hundreds of thousands of dollars in security assistance to the PA. Of particular note are two $90,000 allocations, one to the Preventive Security force, the other to the General Intelligence Service. Both have been linked to widespread human rights abuses in the occupied territories.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in July 2008 that Preventive Security had carried out most of the arrests of Hamas activists in the West Bank. “Many of the arrests were unlawful,” the group reported, “and arrested individuals sometimes encountered maltreatment at the time of arrest or torture during interrogation.” General Intelligence was also linked to cases of torture.
“The most abusive forces, local groups say, are the Preventive Security or General Intelligence Service. Most of the abuses documented in this report were committed by one of those two forces,” HRW concluded.
In a statement to Al Jazeera, the British foreign office said it takes allegations of torture “extremely seriously.” [Foreign office minister Alistair] Burt raised the issue of human rights abuses when he met [Palestinian prime minister Salam] Fayyad last week and asked for a concrete assurance that allegations would be investigated and appropriate actions taken. PM Fayyad gave this.”
The al-Madhoun Assassination
David Poort / Al Jazeera
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has shown operational willingness to co-operate with Israel to kill its own people, the Palestine Papers indicate.
Madhoun’s Family Reacts
(January 25, 2011) — Among the documents are notes, handwritten in Arabic, revealing an exchange in 2005 between the PA and Israel on a plan to kill a Palestinian fighter named Hassan al-Madhoun, who lived in the Gaza strip.
Al-Madhoun (born 1973) was a leading figure within the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, a movement aligned to Fatah, which at that stage still held power in Gaza. Al-Madhoun had been accused by Israel of planning deadly bombings at Israel’s Ashdod port and the Qarni crossing between Gaza and Israel.
In a joint committee meeting on fugitives in mid-2005 in Tel Aviv between Shaul Mofaz, the then-Israeli defence minister, and Nasser Youssef, the PA minister of interior, the PA was asked to kill al-Madhoun.
Mofaz: “[…] Hassan Madhoun, we know his address and Rasheed Abu Shabak [chief of the Preventative Security Organisation in Gaza] knows that. Why don’t you kill him? Hamas fired [Qassam rockets] because of the elections and this is a challenge to you and a warning to Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president].”
Youssef: “We gave instructions to Rasheed [Abu Shabak] and will see.”
Mofaz: “Since we spoke, he has been planning an operation, and that’s four weeks ago, and we know that he wants to strike Qarni or Erez [another border crossing between Gaza and Israel]. He is not Hamas and you can kill him.”
Youssef: “We work, the country is not easy, our capabilities are limited, and you haven’t offered anything.”
Mofaz: “I understand that nothing has been accomplished in the [Gaza] Strip.”
Less then a month after this meeting, on November 1, 2005, al-Madhoun was killed in his car by a missile fired from an Israeli Apache helicopter over the skies of Gaza. The attack also killed a wanted Hamas activist and wounded three other people.
The very next day, Mofaz, who by that time was in Washington, pledged to ease the lives of Palestinians and to pursue peacemaking with President Abbas.
“We want to deal with President Abbas,” Mofaz said after meeting with Condoleezza Rice, the then-US Secretary of State, before going to the White House to confer with Stephen Hadley, the then-national security adviser. “We are waiting to see how the Palestinian Authority will deal with terrorist groups,” the Israeli minister said.
The Palestine Papers appear to reveal two primary motives for the Palestinian Authority’s collaboration with Israel and their crackdown on dissent. Firstly, it serves to maintain the movement’s political supremacy at a time when it is being questioned. Secondly, it is an attempt to signal to the US that it wants to remain a trusted partner in peace talks, regardless the costs.
Saeb Erekat, the PA’s chief negotiator acknowledged the cost of gaining US approval and Israeli trust, in a meeting on September 17, 2009 with David Hale, the deputy US Middle East envoy.
Erekat: We have had to kill Palestinians to establish one authority — one gun and the rule of law. We continue to perform our obligations. We have invested time and effort and killed our own people to maintain order and the rule of law.
It is not clear as to which killings Erekat is referring to but the discussion about the plan to kill al-Madhoun is just one example of how, since the death of Yasser Arafat, Fatah’s policy of resistance to Israel has become one of collaboration.
The Palestine Papers show how the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, once the spearhead of action against the Israeli occupation, has been transformed into a body that helps maintaining it.
During the Annapolis talks in 2008, Ahmed Qurei, the former Palestinian prime minister also known as Abu Ala, and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni, discussed collaboration between the brigade and the Israeli security forces.
“Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade is part of the Fatah movement and they agreed to be part of the current security apparatus, even though this was not my position when I was a prime minister. I wanted the Brigade to remain as it was to confront Hamas,” Qurei told Livni.
With the common goal of destroying Hamas, the Palestine Papers reveal the extent to which the PA, the US and Israel were willing to work together, and the extent to which the PA linked the fate of Hamas with its own political survival. “[…] reaching an agreement is a matter of survival for us. It’s the way to defeat Hamas,” Erekat told Marc Otte, the EU negotiator, in June 2008. Earlier that year, on January 22, Qurei told Livni: “We’ll defeat Hamas if we reach an agreement, and this will be our response to their claim that gaining back our land can be achieved through resistance only.”
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