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Thursday, October 05, 2006

US urging bigger force for Abu Mazen giving money to and fundraising for terrorists

Two weeks ago, I reported that the US was downgrading its strategic relationship with Israel as a result of the poor performance of the IDF in Lebanon this summer - the result of the hesitancy of the Olmert-Peretz-Livni government. Tonight, unfortunately, there is more concrete evidence of the downgrade.

The New York Times is reporting that the US wants to expand the 'Presidential guard' of 'moderate Palestinian President' Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen from 3500 to 6000 men, as a part of a $26 million plan to shore up Mr. Abbas’s position and reduce the security chaos in the Palestinian Authority.

Abu Mazen's Presidential guard is also known as Force 17. Until his capture one month ago, Force 17 was headed by wanted murderer Mahmoud Damra. Of course, the Olmert government cannot really complain since it has given weapons to Force 17 itself.

Here's the rest of the plan:
The Americans are pressing Israel and the Palestinians to agree by Nov. 1 on how to reorganize and reconstruct the Palestinian side of the main border crossing for goods shipped between Gaza and Israel, known as the Karni crossing.

Israel has often shut Karni because of security threats. General Dayton has proposed spending about $25.5 million to build a modern facility for checking and scanning trucks on the Palestinian side, with the goal of allowing up to 400 trucks a day to leave Gaza loaded with exports.

The Americans hope to have the new procedures working at Karni by early November, in time for the harvest, when Gazan farmers hope to ship consignments of cherry tomatoes, persimmons and other produce through Israel to markets in Europe.


General Dayton’s plan, the details of which were confirmed by American officials, calls for some 90 international monitors to work with the Palestinians, including an expanded Presidential Guard, in order, the plan says, “for Palestinians to take responsibility for security and increase Israeli confidence and trust.”

A donor briefed on the plan quoted General Dayton as having said the plan has received “tacit agreement” from the Palestinians, including from Hamas. Israeli officials have discussed the plan but have not yet approved it, an Israeli official said.

The American intention is that the Presidential Guard control the Karni crossing from Gaza, as it currently does at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, and that international monitors work with them at each crossing.

There are European Union monitors stationed at Rafah, but they are threatening to leave, both because of Palestinian violations of customs rules and because of the Israeli army’s activities in Gaza, which has kept the crossing shut for most of the last few months. The European monitors are insisting first that Rafah be opened normally, and then that it also be opened for the shipment of exports from Gaza.

Because of congressional restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority while it is run by Hamas, which the United States, Israel and others regard as a terrorist group, General Dayton has approached international donors — countries and multilateral institutions — to provide the funds for overhauling the Karni crossing.

Because the Presidential Guard works directly for Mr. Abbas, who belongs to the Fatah political movement and not Hamas, it may be possible to use American funds for that purpose, American officials say, but a specific appropriation from Congress would be required. General Dayton is hoping that Washington will provide some $9 million.

The general’s plan estimates that $20 million will go to equip the Presidential Guard and $2 million to add to its numbers, with $4 million spent to build a training facility in Gaza and to complete one already under construction in Jericho in the West Bank.

General Dayton has assembled a team at the American Consulate in Jerusalem to solicit and receive contributions, to manage projects and to satisfy donors that their money is being used properly. Past problems with corruption have made some potential donors hesitant about contributing to projects in the Palestinian territories without safeguards on accountability.
This sounds like we are going back to the days when the CIA trained the 'Palestinian police' and then the 'Palestinian police' turned their guns on Israeli civilians.


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