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Mahmoud Abbas Between Treason, Dismissal

Alwaght– The US President Donald Trump’s so-called peace deal, or “the deal of the century”, as the American media call it, drew strong opposition from the Palestinian groups who asserted they condemn it. In an initial reaction, President of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas said he sent messages to Washington and Tel Aviv telling them Ramallah has ended all sorts of relations with them, including the security cooperation.

Following the relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Al-Quds (Jerusalem) by Trump in 2017 and recognition of Al-Quds as the capital of a Jewish state, Abbas and other PA officials threatened they would sever security ties with the US and the Israelis. They, however, declined to realize their threat, even when the US government in 2018 closed the Palestinian Liberation Organizations office in Washington. In September last year, an intelligence and security delegation was sent by Abbas to the US for talks with the CIA. Abbas announced that the delegation traveled to Washington to save the intelligence and security cooperation with the Americans despite cutting off ties with the White House.

Such empty threats were already made by Abbas and his colleagues. In 2015, for example, the PLO’s executive committee voted to suspend security ties with Tel Aviv as the Israeli regime flouted promised commitment to the agreements signed with the PA. The vote never materialized.

The US-Fatah security cooperation

After Oslo Agreements were inked between the Israelis and Palestinians with the US mediation in 1993 and the birth of the PA which recognized the Israeli state, security coordination went official between the two sides as part of the deal. PA undertook a commitment to prevent any hostile actions by other Palestinian groups against the Israeli regime.

At the same time, the PA initiated its security cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency. The PA competitors argue that the regular meetings of the Abbas-led body and the CIA indicate that there is a network of close relations between the two sides. When Hamas in 2007 took control of Gaza through elections and gained access to the PA archives there, it published documents proving the Fatah cooperation with the CIA.

The Palestinian officials in their efforts to justify their joint work with the American intelligence say that their cooperation with the Americans had a counterterror nature to prevent the rise of such terrorist groups as ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Palestinian territories. But Hamas says it holds documents that prove the PA’s intelligence agency spies on Palestine and other Arab and Muslim countries in favor of the US and the Israeli regime.

In February 2018, the AP news agency reported that a former Palestinian intelligence chief and the head of the West Bank bar association are suing the Palestinian self-rule government after a purported whistle-blower revealed the two were targeted, along with many other allies and rivals of President Mahmoud Abbas, in a large-scale CIA-backed wiretapping operation.

The PA’s security personnel are trained in the US and directly supervised by the American intelligence officers in the West Bank. The Palestinian intelligence body has attachés in some 90 Palestinian embassies across the world, helping the CIA intelligence missions.

Having informants in such states as Syria and Libya, where armed groups are active, the Palestinian intelligence tracks figures wanted by Washington. For instance, American and Libyan sources confirm that PA’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) and its director Majed Faraj helped the US locate and arrest Abu Anas al-Libi, one of the most important Al-Qaeda leaders in Libya.

The GIS also essentially assisted assassinations of Palestinian resistant leaders. The latest case was the assassination of Baha Abu al-Ata, an Islamic Jihad Movement’s commander who was targeted by a laser-guided Israeli missile along with his family at home.

CIA director visit to Ramallah: Abbas should treasonously accept the deal or be ousted 

The visit to West Bank of the CIA Director Gina Haspel on the heels of the Trump’s deal unveiling appears to carry threatening messages to Abbas. On the one hand, the Trump administration still has not delivered the $180 million in aids approved by Congress to the Palestinian security forces. This can be one of the pressure instruments. On the other hand, while Abbas is on the collision course with the US after his rejection of the deal, Haspel’s meeting with Majed Faraj and snubbing Abbas can send a signal of support to the GIS chief and threat of dismissal to the Palestinian president. Late last year, Jared Kushner, Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, threatened Abbas with removal if he opposed the deal.

Faraj is recognized by many Palestinians as the puppet of the Israeli regime. Such a pessimism about him even strengthened when he in 2016 noted his forces frustrated 200 anti-Israeli armed attacks and that his men work closely with Tel Aviv and Washington.

Certainly, the US support for Faraj is crucial as he is not given posts in the executive committee of the PA or the Central Committee of Fatah movement which is led by Abbas.

The Israeli Kan television reported that CIA chief talked with Faraj the future bilateral cooperation. The Israeli network reported that Faraj assured the American intelligence chief that the bilateral security cooperation will not be affected by the so-called peace deal of Trump and will continue.

Although the Israeli reports are yet to be confirmed by the PA, the silence about the discussion with the CIA director has sparked doubt by other Palestinian groups about the seriousness of Fatah slogans about adopting an uncompromising approach to the Trump deal.

Reacting to the visit, Mohamad al-Hindi, a member of the Islamic Jihad Movement’s political office, said that continued intelligence partnership of the PA with the Israeli and American intelligence agencies is the “most dangerous” behavior of the PA. He warned that if the cooperation is not ended immediately, the PA will lose its validity in the eyes of all Arab and international organizations, making its condemnation of Trump’s plan look sham.

On Saturday, Abbas said he continues to refuse the deal because “I do not want people in the future to say he is a traitor who sold Al-Quds.” But he should know that empty promises, like in the past, will not clear him of treason charges.

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