Israel, PA deepen security cooperation (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON AND MARGOT DUDKEVITCH 01/30/05)
JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-Top
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Muhammad Dahlan, representing the
Palestinian Authority, met Saturday night in Tel Aviv for nearly five
hours amid optimism fanned by a week of relative quiet and Israel´s
announcement it will not take military action in areas where the PA
has deployed security forces.
No concrete decisions were arrived at security officials said, adding
that there has definitely been progress and understanding between the
The meeting between the two men – their first in a year-and-a-half –
was called to strengthen the overall security coordination between
the two sides and discuss the possible transfer of West Bank cities
to PA control.
Dahlan is a senior Fatah leader and former security chief considered
one of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas´s close confidants.
Three mortar shells were fired at a Gush Katif settlement, and a
Kassam rocket landed in the western Negev, just as the meeting at the
Sheraton Moriah Hotel got under way.
Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya´alon instructed the army on
Friday to curtail action in the Gaza Strip and refrain from carrying
out West Bank operations without receiving his personal
authorization. In addition, the Erez, Karni and Rafah crossings are
expected to be opened later this week.
These steps are widely believed to have two primary objectives: to
encourage the PA to continue taking action to quell firing on Israeli
targets, and to "clear the decks" so that the PA can´t say it is
unable to deploy troops or take action because the IDF is in the way.
Furthermore, the move is linked to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon´s top
aide Dov Weisglass´s scheduled meeting Monday in Washington with new
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Friday´s decision allows Weisglass to walk into the State Department
and say that Israel is taking the necessary steps to prop up Abbas.
Weisglass is expected to lobby Rice, who will accompany US President
George W. Bush on his upcoming trip to Europe, to turn a deaf ear to
what Jerusalem anticipates will be European calls to prod Jerusalem
into beginning political negotiations with the PA immediately.
Israel´s position is that as welcome as Abbas´s initial moves have
been, and the quiet that has followed, they do not constitute the
implementation of Palestinian commitments under the road map to
comprehensively fight terror and dismantle the terrorist
These include making arrests, confiscating weapons, destroying the
factories used to manufacture Kassam rockets and bombs and ending
Weisglass is expected to urge Rice that this is not the time to leap-
frog over the first phase of the road map and into political
He is also expected to tell the US that Israel is willing to release
more Palestinian prisoners, but that this will have to wait until
Abbas demonstrates more control in the territories.
At the Mofaz-Dahlan meeting they raised the issues of gradual
transfer of security control of West bank cities, deployment of
Palestinian security forces in the West Bank and near the Philadelphi
Route and taking steps to prevent the tunnels used to smuggle weapons
from Egypt to Gaza. There was also talk of additional confidence-
building measures, including easing restrictions on travel in the
West Bank, lifting closures and the removal of checkpoints, security
officials told The Jerusalem Post.
The officials warned that despite the progress already made, the
situation remains extremely fragile.
"God forbid if a suicide bomb attack occurs in Israel then the whole
process will be suspended, and all advancement will be stopped," one
Israeli official said.
Israel, he said, will not agree to the Palestinian request to halt
targeted killings. "It is Israel´s responsibility to protect its
citizens, and while the army will refrain from conducting initiated
operations, if the Palestinians fail to act against "ticking bombs"
then they leave Israel no option, the official said. "If we receive
information that a terrorist wearing an explosives belt is en route
to Jerusalem and the Palestinians fail to stop him, then we will," he
A second meeting between Mofaz and Dahlan is expected to take place
some time later this week. Saturday night´s meeting was the first
since August 2003, when similar steps were being discussed, but were
brought to an abrupt end when a suicide bomber blew up a Jerusalem
bus, killing 18 and wounding over 100.
While Palestinian spokesmen said Saturday that the long-awaited
Sharon-Abbas meeting is scheduled for February 8, officials in the
Prime Minister´s Office said that no firm date has yet been fixed,
and it may be a day or two before or after this date.
Weisglass, who met top PA officials last week, is scheduled to hold a
follow-up meeting with them on Thursday to finalize the agenda of the
The Mofaz-Dahlan meeting followed by a day a panel discussion at the
World Economic Forum in Davos that was attended by Vice Prime
Minister Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Vice Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert on the Israeli side, and PA Finance Minister
Salaam Fayad, Economic Minister Maher Masri and Yasser Abed Rabbo
representing the Palestinians.
Peres said that the Middle East peace "magic has returned to the
mountain," a reference to Thomas Mann´s novel, The Magic Mountain,
which is set in Davos.
Peres said Abbas has managed, in a few days, to "change the whole
atmosphere in the Middle East." He praised the fresh approach taken
both by Abbas and Sharon.
Shalom told the panel that Israel will not agree to a situation were
there is "terror in the morning, funerals in the afternoon and
negotiations in the evening at luxury hotels," and called on Abbas to
wage an uncompromising war on terror.
Regarding disengagement, Shalom said that while the uprooting of
settlements may cause a split in the nation, in a democracy the
government´s decisions must be respected.
Shalom met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulki in Davos on
Saturday, and reportedly talked about possible Jordanian-Palestinian
security cooperation in the West Bank. Shalom also reportedly met
with Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. The Foreign Ministry
would not confirm that meeting. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY