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Arab Security Forces in Palestinian Territories - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has sought help and called for the deployment of an Arab security force in the [Palestinian] Authority’s [PA] territories to perform two missions: The first is to help the Palestinians establish security which has deteriorated further because of the clashes with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the second is to build up and train the Palestinian security forces.

Here, unusually, I agree with Hamas that the plan is impractical and doomed to failure and might complicate further the conflicts and relations between all the parties.

Let us examine the issue as if it can be applicable, that is, the PA has asked and the Arab governments agreed. First of all, will the Arab countries send security forces since their aim is also to train the Palestinian security forces? How will the security forces operate on a ground that is considered a battlefield when they are in their countries trained to chase civilian crimes, stop troubles in sports grounds, or control traffic violations? Or is it armed forces from the army sector that is required? If this is so, then it means they will come armed and trained for combat purposes and not for maintaining civilian security. This is inconsistent with the declared aim.

If we assume that the Arab countries did create the security-military battalion, determined its functions, and moved it to Gaza or Ramallah, here it will find itself facing a very dangerous problem, one called Israel. It is almost certain that the battalion will be a target for the Israelis who will find a plausible pretext for bombarding it. For instance, if Hamas members fired rockets at Israel from the vicinity of the battalion’s location, then we will see Israeli aircraft bombing the Arab security position without any regard for the details and the Arab countries will be compelled to withdraw their forces, defeated, and the PA will find itself in a predicament. If we assume that Israel pledged not to bombard the Arab forces’ position, in accordance with a prior agreement, what action would be taken if Palestinian gunmen fired at the Arab forces themselves? Are they supposed to reply in kind and kill Palestinians or keep silent about the killing of their members?

The bad possibilities are many and the benefits sought from seeking the help of Arab forces are limited. Therefore may the prime minister allow us to tell him not to put himself in a predicament that will only make his position more difficult.

The Arab countries resolved their stand since the 1974 summit and called the PLO the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This stand remains valid to this day and involves important obligations which mean not recognizing any Palestinian who comes from outside the PLO’s entity. Hence Hamas was accepted only when the PA opened the door to it and gave it its legitimacy. For this historic reason, and legal one to, the Arab League [AL] does not recognize Hamas as a government because the PA removed this legitimacy from it when it staged its coup. But the Arab commitment will not go as far as to get embroiled in the armed conflict between Hamas and the PA and the Arabs will most definitely not send their small forces to confront the Israeli armada. There is much that the Arab governments can supposedly do instead. The first and easiest one is diplomatic representation in the temporary capital Ramallah. Despite is modest symbolism, it is still of great political value as it bolsters the Palestinian right and reality. The PA did not seek to embarrass the Arab countries and the AL did not offer to design a plan for relations and the guarantees, immunity, and other things they require. The PA is living alone and isolated at the Arab level and the target for breakup by Palestinian groups which consider themselves rivals, such as Hamas. Weakening the PA weakens the Palestinian cause and weakening the latter means more tension in the entire region.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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