|October 2016: Jibril Rajoub is hosted by the chief of the
Palestinian police [Image Source]
Interpol voted this week to admit the Palestinian Authority civil police as a full member in what Al Jazeera calls “a new victory in its drive for international representation despite strong Israeli opposition”.
This raises some pretty deep concerns here in Israel where the assumedly-secure sharing of intelligence on terrorism is viewed as a life-and-death matter by ordinary folk.
The current head of the PA police is modestly referred to in formal documents and press releases as “His Excellency Major General Hazim Attallah“. He was appointed to the role in March 2008, promoting a US official to submit this brief backgrounder up the reporting chain. It eventually found its way into Wikileaks. Some highlights [italics mean direct quotes]:
- Atallah previously served as “the military secretary and a security advisor in the Office of the President” of the PA.
- A “savvy internal operator who has managed to effectively navigate between PM Salam Fayyad and President Abbas and make himself necessary to both… [An] unusual choice for police chief–he spent most of his security time in the Preventive Security Organization (PSO) and his recent assignments have been advisory/political, not management.”
- “The PA police headquarters is full of senior figures who will, at least initially, view Attallah as a political interloper.”
- “Born in 1959 in Bayt Surik (near Jerusalem)…” That’s an interesting note: it’s the small village where the Palestinian Arab shooter who killed three Israelis at Hard Adar two days ago [“26-Sep-17: At Har Adar’s entrance, an Arab-on-Israeli shooter with problems and a solution“] came from.
- “Attended Bulgaria’s military academy from 1980 to 1984… the son of Husni Muhammad Attallah (“Abu Za’im”), a former head of Fatah military intelligence and senior PLO official until a high-profile break with Arafat in 1986 led to his expulsion from the PLO.”
- He became “a security advisor to President Abbas in 2005 and military secretary to PM Salam Fayyad in September 2007.”
|August 2017: His Excellency visits Interpol [Image Source]|
- A profile article last year surveying the PA’s multiple and overlapping security arms [“The many layers of the Palestinian Security Forces“, Ynet, April 26, 2016] calls him “intelligent, albeit arrogant, and as someone who views himself as superior to others“.
- Human Rights Watch, offering faint praise when Atallah was appointed, wrote that the PA police organization “appears to be the least abusive force in the West Bank“. In the circumstances, that’s actually quite a compliment.
- The Facebook page of Jibril Rajoub displayed a photo (top of this post) on October 19, 2016 of him standing with Major General Atallah in the latter’s Ramallah office. Both senior officials are clutching holding a plaque featuring a PA map of Palestine. Palestinian Media Watch points out repeatedly that the PA’s version “completely erases Israel from the map“. This is clearly true – you only have to look at it. Rajoub’s hideous public views on terror are well-documented; this for instance: “I say that whoever carried out individual acts of heroism, we in the Fatah movement bless and encourage them. We consider them heroes and a crown on the head of every Palestinian…” [Official PA TV, January 2, 2016 via PMW]
Atallah, who has been busy traveling in Europe during these last few weeks, presumably to help drum up backing for the PA’s Interpol strategy, will be going to Hamas-controlled Gaza this coming Monday “to discuss security matters with Hamas” [Jerusalem Post yesterday]. He has not been there since the Islamists seized control in 2007’s blood-soaked violence.
With Interpol having now opened its arms to Atallah and the Palestinian police, we wonder – as commentators frequently say when speaking of events in our area – what could possibly go wrong.