The Biden administration is currently training and arming several thousand Palestinian Authority troops, commentator Carolyn Glick has recently denounced.
As reported in The Media Line, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and Axios, a recent joint security summit included the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization Hussein al-Sheikh; the head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, Majed Faraj; and the diplomatic advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas, Majdi Al-Khalidi. From the Israeli side, Israel’s National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Shin Bet intelligence service chief Ronen Bar attended. Also in attendance were the heads of intelligence of Jordan and Egypt. The negotiations were overseen by the US Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf and coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa in the Biden administration, Brett McGurk.
The stated goal of the summit was to boost Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation and solidify understandings that already have been reached regarding the steps that the two sides would take to de-escalate tensions.
According to Glick, the training, outlined by Lieutenant General Michael R. Fenzel, US security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, provides for the military training of 5,000 Palestinians in counterterrorism and commando tactics. At the end of the training, the Palestinian officers will bring with them 5,000 rifles and additional “anti-terror equipment” to Palestinian cities and towns inside Samaria and in the areas surrounding Hebron. The plan, also “foresees the deployment of foreign forces, including U.S. military forces, on the ground.”
The program, originally set up by President George W. Bush, has already trained several thousand Palestinians in four-month courses at a facility in Jordan already used by US-backed Iraqi forces. The program aims at establishing a force of nearly 50,000 trained Palestinian soldiers. None of the instructors will be U.S. government personnel. The program requires detailed background checks for each recruit and Israel has a veto over who participates because it has to permit them to travel to Jordan.
Unlike the program being initiated by the Biden administration, the original program, supervised by U.S. Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, was explicitly designed to train Palestinian troops in riot control and other police methods to control civilians—not counterterrorism. As Dayton put it at the time, “we don’t give out any guns or bullets.”
The new program proposed by the Biden administration is distinctly unlike the original plan in that explicitly provides “guns and bullets” and the training to use them, creating a special force of armed PA security forces.
For its part, the PA agreed to stop its efforts to bring forward a draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council condemning Israel’s decision to build and legalize more settlements.
In the article in JNS, Glick cited a report by Israel’s Channel 14 as outlining the US plan to train PA security forces in Jordan. Glick pointed out the fatal flaw in the plan; the direct involvement of PA security personnel in terrorist attacks targeting Israelis.
“During the course of the Palestinian terror war 20 years ago, U.S.-trained P.A. forces murdered 26 IDF soldiers in 2002 alone,” Glick wrote. “The Palestinians learned how to use cell phones as remote detonation devices from their American trainers. Over the years, they have put that knowledge to use not to fight terror but to kill Israelis in terrorist attacks.
“The P.A., whose forces the U.S. seeks to “empower,” is controlled by the Fatah terror group. P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas is the chairman of Fatah. Fatah terrorists carried out most of the murderous terror attacks in 2021-2022. Several of those attacks were carried out by P.A. security officers.”
At last month’s summit in Jordan aimed at calming the violence between Israel and the Palestinians, Hady Amr, the Biden administration’s special representative for Palestinian affairs, promoted an American plan requiring Israel to sharply curtail counter-terror operations by the IDF.
Gatestone Institute reported on the plan, describing it as “a political and military nightmare” since it reportedly calls for the foreign military to be stationed alongside PA forces in Israel in the future.
“[The Israelis] would find themselves in the impossible position of risking harming the Europeans and Americans forces stationed there,” Gatestone wrote. “These troops, mingled among the Palestinians, would essentially be ‘human shields,’ deliberately placed in harm’s way to prevent Israel from taking any action.”
Dr. Mordechai Kedar acknowledged that the plan to give commando training to PA forces was in place and ready to begin. He explained that this was bad for Israel since the PA security forces play an active role in terrorism. He explained that the intention of the Biden administration was focused on the Palestinian Authority.
“This is just another example of how the Americans are trying to resuscitate the Palestinian Authority,” Dr. Kedar said. “The stated purpose is to train the PA police to maintain order and deal with terrorists in their midst. But this is a bluff. The real purpose is to maintain order on the day after Mahmoud Abbas leaves the picture.”
Dr. Kedar explained that the security organizations of the PA are currently under the control of the Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Services chief, Majed Farej, appointed by Abbas in 2009. Five months after President Biden took office, Farej traveled to Washington to meet with his counterparts in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
“The Americans understand that he will be the most likely to take over after Abbas,” Dr. Kedar said. “One way or another, Abbas is going to leave, probably very soon. There are at least five militias who are right now preparing for that day. That is one of the reasons for the violence in Samaria right now. They are jockeying for position, trying to show who is stronger.”
According to Dr, Kedar, the Americans want to make sure that they are supporting the winner.
“It is just another example of the Americans meddling in the Middle East without understanding the culture or the situation,” he said.
“Israel was forced to allow it,” Dr. Kedar added. “Netanyahu chose not to fight this. He is already out of favor with the Biden administration. And if there is a massive civil war in the PA after Abbas leaves, Netanyahu doesn’t want to get blamed. But Israel always gets blamed when the Palestinians kill each other, like after Hamas won the elections in Gaza.”
Prof. Efraim Inbar, a professor emeritus of political science at Bar-Ilan University and a veteran authority on the Arab-Israeli conflict and strategic developments in the Mideast, was skeptical of the plan to train PA security forces.
“The US expects that when the PA security forces return, they will add to the security of the region,” Prof.Inbar said. “That seems doubtful. The PA security forces are not going to use force against Palestinians in Samaria. I am sure the Israeli government understands this but they have no choice but to appease the Biden administration.”
According to Inbar, this move may help Abbas and his people when there is a battle for power, but it has no benefit for Israel or our security.
“A Palestinian army is a part and parcel of creating a Palestinian state,” Prof. Inbar said. “The Palestinians are not a state and it does not seem that they will become a state anytime soon. A state has one very clear and necessary trait; a monopoly on the use of force. The PA lost this monopoly when Hamas took over Gaza by forcing the PA out. Now, in Jenin and Shechem (Nablus), new militias are cropping up. The PA can’t become a state if they aren’t the sole power. It really has little to do with Israel.”
The Zionist Organization of America condemned the US plan “in the strongest possible terms”, emphasizing that the US-led military intervention is an explicit violation of Article IV.3 of the 1995 Oslo Accords II.
Article XV of the same agreement states that “both sides shall take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crimes, and hostilities directed against each other…”, a measure the PA is clearly not taking as it pays stipends to terrorists and their families.
“Thus, under the Biden administration’s plan, Israel would be restricted from defending innocent Israelis from terrorists; and much of Judea/Samaria would become a “safe haven” for terrorists to retreat to and be celebrated after perpetrating murderous terror attacks in Israel, with no consequences,” the ZOA wrote. “Moreover, American and other foreign forces on the ground would become sitting ducks, subject to Palestinian-Arab terror attacks. American and foreign soldiers would also become human shields, who block Israel from going after the terrorists, lest foreign forces be caught in the crossfire. Further, the PA will want foreign forces to include Iranians, thereby introducing even more terror into the region.”
According to ZOA, if the Biden administration proceeded with its plan, Israel would have the right to deport and ban any Palestinian-Arab commandos trained by the U.S. from re-entering Israeli territory, including Judea/Samaria. In addition, Israel could expel or refuse entry to any foreign forces and U.S. trainers.
“Israel has always been responsible for her own defense and has never asked for a single American soldier to protect the Jewish State,” ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said. “The administration’s plan is a horrifically grotesque idea, which will weaken Israel’s counterterrorism defenses while massively increasing Palestinian Arab terrorism. The Palestinian Authority, which would supposedly direct this new elite armed force, is itself a terror organization that incites and pays Arabs to murder Jews. This outrageous proposal would result in the murder of more Israelis, and must be opposed and scrapped.”