Posted tagged ‘U.S. Consulate’

The West Bank Army of the “State of Palestine,” Thanks to the United States

January 21, 2015

The West Bank Army of the “State of Palestine,” Thanks to the United States, The Gatestone InstituteShoshana Bryen, January 21, 2015

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The U.S. Consulate’s determination to provide the trappings of Palestinian statehood to the Palestinian Authority outside the negotiating process should come under scrutiny.

What plan do we have if the Palestinian army attacks the IDF in the future — instead of its presumed enemy, Hamas?

It is revealing that the U.S. appears determined to provide the Palestinian Authority with an army while it is still at war with our ally, Israel.

Last week, officials from the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem attended a Palestinian protest over Israel’s removal of olive trees illegally planted in the West Bank. Coordinated with the Palestinian Authority [PA] but not Israel, the Consulate personnel ended up clashing with Israelis living nearby. It was, perhaps, the quietest international almost-incident you never heard of.

This week, with the focus off Paris, the Middle East Quartet (the U.S., EU, Russia & the UN) plans to meet. The U.S. Consulate’s determination to provide the trappings of Palestinian statehood to the PA outside the negotiating process should come under scrutiny.

The olive tree incident prompted an article in the Israeli press about the Consulate, including the use of Palestinian security, rather than IDF combat veterans as required by a 2011 agreement. Some IDF guards were fired, according to the article. Others resigned, blaming the appointment of a new consulate security officer, who they said, established a Palestinian armed militia. “He is training them with weapons, combat and tactical exercises. There is a lack of responsibility here – who ensures that such weapons, once given over to Palestinian guards, won’t make their way to terror groups?”

The change in personnel from IDF veterans to a Palestinian Security Force [PSF] is part of a long series of steps to transform the Palestinian body politic into a state. If the U.S. Consulate becomes the U.S. Embassy to Palestine — a function it already observes — it is understandable that the PA would not want “occupying Israeli soldiers” to guard the symbol of America from Palestinian citizens in “its capital, Jerusalem.” The Consulate, with its mission to the PA, would agree.

Palestinian security forces have been in existence since 1994 and have steadily changed mandates. They have gone from a “police force” under the Oslo formulation of “dismantling the terrorist infrastructure” so Israel could have confidence in security after withdrawing from territory, to a protection force for Mahmoud Abbas so he would continue negotiations under U.S. auspices — but now to an army for the nascent state.

The Clinton Administration signed on to the police phase, but asked how Arafat could be expected to defeat “terrorists” without weapons. Unmentioned were a) Arafat was the prime funder and organizer of the terrorist organizations in question, and b) the PLO had already proven perfectly capable of killing its enemies.

The first funds for equipment and training came in 1994 from international donors including the U.S. Arafat, having a reasonable sized arsenal of his own, wanted arms, but settled for nonlethal items.

In 1996, Western trained Palestinian “police” attacked IDF personnel with weapons, killing 15 soldiers and border guards, after the opening of an exit from an ancient Hasmonean tunnel in Jerusalem, near the Western Wall in the Old City.

Despite these attacks, according to Jeffrey Boutwell, Director
 of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, the 1997 Hebron Protocol “provided for a Palestinian police force of some 30,000 personnel, equipped with 15,000 automatic rifles and pistols, 240 heavy machine guns, 45 armored vehicles, lightly armed shore patrol vessels, and associated communications and transportation equipment.” An Israeli-Palestinian Joint Security Coordination and Cooperation Committee [JSC] was formed to oversee “arrangements for entry of the Palestinian Police and the introduction of police arms, ammunition, and equipment.”

Between the onset of Western arms deliveries and a thriving black market, the PA “police” had all the lethal equipment they could handle.

Training stopped during the 2001-2004 so-called “second intifada” with the (unsurprising) revelation that the PA “police” found their Western assets invaluable in attacking Israelis. In 2005, however, history began again and the U.S. decided that the Palestinians should have a new security service. LTG William Ward USA (Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe, and Chief of Staff, U.S. Seventh Army) was the point man. In the words of then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, his mission was:

  • “To make sure the parties understand each other and we understand what the parties are doing, so we can raise it at the appropriate level” if action is required.
  • “To provide a focal point for training, equipping, helping the Palestinians to build their security forces and also for monitoring, and if necessary, to help the parties on security matters.”

The missions were incompatible and inappropriate. The first involved “translating for the parties” with an eye toward U.S. intervention, a political job that should not have been done by a military officer. Further, having part of the mission directed toward a Palestinian force gave the General a stake in the success of the Palestinians over the concerns of Israel.

And so it happened. The Ward mission, the sole conduit for U.S. aid to the new Palestinian Security Force, resulted only in better-trained terrorists.

LTG Keith Dayton (Director of Strategy, Plans and Policy, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3, U.S. Army), well respected and liked by Israel and the IDF, succeeded LTG Ward. His job, however, was complicated by the deterioration relations Hamas-Fatah in Gaza. According to acontemporaneous Ha’aretz story, Dayton was to arm and train “the Presidential Guard of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to prepare it for a potential violent confrontation with Hamas forces in Gaza. Palestinian sources say the training of 400 Force 17 troops… started [in November 2006] in Jericho under the guidance of an American military instructor.” Force 17 had been Arafat’s Praetorian Guard, attacking recalcitrant Palestinians as well as Israelis. Abbas had inherited it.

Throwing American support to one Palestinian faction over another was a political decision to side with what our government assumed was “better” or more “moderate” Palestinians, hoping it would use our help to put down Hamas rather than using it to kill ever more Israelis.

What it did was legitimize the creeping movement of the Palestinians toward a full-fledged army.

This new mission needed IDF participation — which Israel approved in part because of its relations with LTG Dayton, and because it allowed Israel to operate in West Bank territory with a relatively free hand to arrest both Hamas operatives and Fatah bad guys. It also made Abbas beholden to Israel for his personal security and that of his kleptocracy. That part worked, and even now, PA figures have admitted publicly that without IDF cooperation, the PA would fall.

Dayton’s successors, LTG Michael Moeller, USAF and ADM Paul Bushong, USN, have quietly continued and upgraded both training and weapons.

893Hundreds of troops from the Palestinian Security Force line a street in Ramallah, in order to block anti-American protestors, during President Obama’s 2013 visit to the city.

The question always was twofold: What constitutes “appropriate” weapons for the PSF, and how does the U.S. justify training security forces the ultimate loyalty of whom will be a government that we cannot foresee and may become something — or already is something — we don’t like? The corollary is: What plan do we have if the Palestinian Army attacks IDF forces in the future — instead of its presumed enemy, Hamas?

To raise the questions is to understand that there are no sound answers from either the Consulate or the State Department. In their absence, concern over the choice of security guards by the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem is appropriate, but insufficient. It is revealing that the U.S. appears determined to provide the PA with an army while it is still at war with our ally, Israel.

What Were Armed US Consulate Staff Doing near Adei Ad?

January 4, 2015

What Were Armed US Consulate Staff Doing near Adei Ad? Israel National News,  Ari Soffer, January 4, 2015

(Please see also ‘Deport US Consulate Staff Who Threatened Jews’ and related update links in my parenthetical comment there. This is a further update.– DM)

img557200Adei Ad is located in the Shiloh bloc north of JerusalemMendy Hechtman/Flash 90

Security source says ‘no question’ US Consulate staff pointed their weapons during Friday confrontation. Planned provocation or blunder?

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The full details of Friday’s clash between residents of the Jewish village of Adei Ad in Samaria and a delegation from the US Consulate in Jerusalem – which very nearly escalated into a fully-fledged shootout between the sides – are still emerging.

But those details which have emerged so far paint a worrying picture regarding the conduct of Consulate staff – who either willingly took part in a planned provocation, or else, in a staggering show of irresponsibility and unprofessionalism, recklessly blundered into a volatile and potentially deadly situation without the slightest idea of what they were doing.

Roughly two hours before the start of Shabbat, a group from the Consulate, escorted by armed (apparently American) guards and several residents of the Arab village of Turmus Ayya, descended en-masse and unannounced on an area within 50 meters of Adei Ad’s southwestern edge. Neither the IDF nor local residents were informed of the visit beforehand.

The Consulate delegation had apparently been “invited” by Palestinian Arabs from Turmus Ayya, many of whom hold US citizenship, ostensibly to see the site of what Arabs claim was an “attack” by Adei Ad residents on an olive orchard. That incident was originally reported Thursday night by the PA’s Bethlehem-based Maan News, which claimed that Jewish “settlers” had uprooted 5,000 olive trees – a rather incredible number to those familiar with quite what such a mammoth task would entail. Subsequent reports later revised the number down to 500, although no independent verification or evidence of the alleged damage has surfaced as yet.

Adei Ad residents, alarmed at the unannounced arrival of a large groupfrom a Palestinian village within meters of their community, rushed out to confront them. A brief verbal altercation ensued which quickly escalated, with youths from Adei Ad hurling rocks at the delegation, causing some damage to a Consulate vehicle.

At this point the accounts vary; witnesses from Adei Ad say Consulate staff drew their weapons – an M-16 and a handgun – following which residents called for backup from Adei Ad’s own security team. The Consulate, for its part, has denied any weapons were drawn at all. Either way, the American delegation beat a hasty retreat.

Notably, at no point during the confrontation was the IDF alerted by the Consulate team; only after leaving the scene did the Americans call the army, who quickly responded and launched an investigation, which is still ongoing.

img73901Damage to US Consulate vehicle Rabbis for Human Rights

Whatever the case, Jewish residents of Adei Ad and surrounding communities in the Shiloh bloc, located in the Binyamin region to the north of Jerusalem, are demanding answers. Angry residents say the incident was clearly a planned provocation, and have expressed their astonishment at the fact that an armed entourage from the US Consulate would arrive at a contested spot without coordinating their visit with the IDF in advance.

Indeed, regardless of the intent behind the visit, one Adei Ad resident pointed out that it was a clear recipe for disaster.

Apart from being the location of a protest in December 10th in which senior PA official Ziad Abu Ein died of a heart attack, the site of Friday’s confrontation is also the precise spot where a group of Palestinians attempted to infiltrate Adei Ad just two weeks ago.

“Two weeks ago at that exact place a horse was stolen,” said the resident, who asked to remain anonymous. “At 10 p.m. that same night dozens of Arabs from a nearby village came up to Adei Ad at the same spot, and residents came out to keep them away.”

Recounting Friday’s incident, he said residents had no idea Consulate staff were present at all. All they saw, he said, was “Arabs approaching, accompanied by what looked like a group of Europeans – we didn’t know who they were exactly. Often foreign anarchists join the Arabs in carrying out violence or provocation.”

Due to the tense relations between Jews and Arabs in the area, Arab farmers must contact the IDF before working land that abuts Adei Ad in order to avoid any confrontations. For their part, Adei Ad residents have long complained that they have been regularly targeted by Arab thieves and vandals.

“About two years ago a group of Arabs actually came right up to my house, right into the enter of Adei Ad, and stole a whole herd of sheep. In the past they’ve stolen horses, they stole a tractor, building equipment,” the resident recounted.

“The Arabs know that if they want to come that close to Adei Ad to do agricultural work they need to let the army know first to escort them. So any time Arabs approach without army supervision – particularly in that place where two weeks ago there was an incident – that’s a sign that they are coming to cause trouble… to attack or damage property,” he added.

He said locals had long given up on the prospect of receiving help from police, who he accused of totally avoiding their responsibilities and only agreeing to investigate Palestinian accusations against them.

“We receive no backing from the police,” he lamented. “Every time there is an incident of robbery by the Arabs the military refuses to deal with it because they don’t look at it as life-threatening; and the police… they tell us that it’s out of their jurisdiction.

“On the other hand, every time the Arabs steal something or cause trouble they then go and report us to the police – that’s how they work – so it’s always a one-sided investigation, because the police claim they have no jurisdiction over the Arab villages, only over us! No one has ever been charged, no property has ever been returned.”

He emphasized that despite the negative characterization of Adei Ad and surrounding Jewish communities in the area by some media outlets, residents are not interested in trouble and just want to get on with their daily lives in peace.

“We have much better things to do with our lives – we have our children and families, and we have jobs,” he said. “We don’t enjoy going out and having rock-throwing fights… no one seems to realize… but we feel we are under threat and that if we don’t do it the next step is a terrorist attack.”

Responding to American denials that Consulate staff pointed their guns at residents, a local security source said there was “no question” they hadindeed drawn their weapons, based on the individual testimony of numerous witnesses.

The security source, who also asked to remain anonymous, said one American “with ginger hair” was seen pointing his pistol at residents, who were unarmed, from inside of his car after rolling down the window. The other armed man then did the same with an M-16 rifle.

It was then that the situation threatened to get out of control.

“News spread that some people had approached the town with weapons, and they called for help,” prompting armed members of the local civilianfirst-response team to rush to the site, he recounted.

Luckily, “at that point it seems like the Americans thought it would be a good time to leave… and after that there was a brief confrontation between the Arabs and (Jewish) residents until the army arrived.”

He said that although an investigation was still ongoing, the conduct of the Consulate delegation was “suspicious.”

“Why didn’t they call anyone while the confrontation was going on?” he asked.

He also described the “strange” behavior of the Consulate guards when they were finally met by IDF forces and first-responders, describing them as looking sheepish and, unprompted, immediately insisting they hadn’t drawn their weapons.

Marc Prowisor, a resident of the nearby town of Shiloh, said the latest confrontation posed some “difficult questions.”

“Were members of the American Consulate knowingly taking part in a larger provocation – which is against the law?” asked Prowisor who, as Director of the One Israel Fund charity which helps secure local communities, is in regular contact with local security forces.