|09JERUSALEM2292||2009-12-17 16:25:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Consulate Jerusalem|
VZCZCXRO9429 PP RUEHROV DE RUEHJM #2292/01 3511625 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 171625Z DEC 09 FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7055 INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 002292
1. (C) Summary: Palestinian Authority (PA) Civil Police
Chief Hazim Atallah told Post that PA security forces were
focused on settler-Palestinian violence and a possible
upcoming large-scale prisoner release by Israel. He said
that preparations to prevent the former and manage the latter
are underway. Atallah criticized Israeli security forces
for, in his view, failing to take appropriate responsibility
for the safety of Palestinians in areas of the West Bank
where PA security forces are not allowed to operate. Even
so, he said that his first meeting with the new Israel
Defense Forces (IDF) Central Commander, Major General Avi
Mizrahi, had been "encouraging" regarding PA-GOI security
cooperation. End summary.
PA EFFORTS TO PREVENT RETALIATION FOR SETTLER VIOLENCE
2. (C) In a December 14 meeting in Ramallah, Atallah said
the PA security establishment was deeply concerned about
future attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers imposing a
"price tag" on the GOI's ten-month moratorium on new
residential construction in West Bank settlements. "This is
the most sensitive issue facing the PA security sector," he
said. "(The moratorium is) a disaster at the political
level, but also for us, in the security services, it's not
easy." He noted that any Palestinian retaliation would carry
a heavy political price for the PA, saying, "This is the most
efficient way of destroying what we've built. We're being
put to the test -- we're asking people not to do anything,
asking them to stand down when they're under attack."
IDF'S RESPONSIBILITY FOR SECURITY IN AREAS B AND C
3. (C) Atallah said that PA security forces, barred from
operating in Areas B and C of the West Bank, could not
protect Palestinians living there from extremist settlers.
"I told the Israelis, this is not the responsibility of PA
security forces. It's the Israelis' job, it's their citizen
who's involved," he said. Criticizing the IDF for inaction
in the face of an increasingly risky security scenario in the
West Bank, he said, "I don't know what to say to our people.
They're working in the fields, they're in their homes, and
they're under attack. Now it's a mosque that's targeted.
What am I supposed to say to them, 'stay still?'" He asked,
"are the settlers stronger than the Israeli government? I
don't believe so. And if they're not, the Israeli government
should do something about this."
PA IN THE DARK ABOUT GOI PRISONER RELEASE
4. (C) Atallah noted that PA security forces are preparing
for the possibility of a large-scale prisoner release by
Israel related to negotiations over kidnapped IDF soldier
Gilad Shalit. "We're working on scenarios to be able to
handle this," Atallah said. "But the Israelis have to tell
us who's going to be released, and where. They're not
authorized to surprise us." He continued, "we (the PA) can't
oppose this (publicly). The guys who will be released are
Palestinians -- we have to be happy. But how do we handle
this without giving Hamas the chance to build on this?
That's very important. And so far, we have no information
from the Israeli side."
NABLUS STANDOFF A "RED LINE"
5. (C) Regarding the November 29 altercation between
personnel of the PA's National Security Force (NSF) and the
Civil Police (reftel), Atallah said, "this was painful for
all of us. After all that we've accomplished -- I'm not
afraid of Hamas, I'm not afraid of Israel. I'm afraid of our
ability to destroy with our own two hands what we've made."
Noting that the PA had taken swift action to discipline and
replace the officers involved, he said, "Me and (NSF West
Bank Commander) Abu al-Fatah will never let this
(destruction) happen. Immediately, the necessary precautions
were taken. This is a red line, the kind of thing that no
one will accept. We paid a lot for this kind of chaos in
past years -- this is how we lost Gaza."
FIRST MEETING WITH MIZRAHI "ENCOURAGING"
JERUSALEM 00002292 002 OF 002
6. (C) Atallah reported that he had recently met with the
new IDF Central Commander, Major General Avi Mizrahi.
Atallah said the meeting provided a chance "for him to see
us, for us to tell him our principles. That we want peace,
that we don't have another way of achieving our national
goals." Atallah continued, "I told Mizrahi about the speech
(Prime Minister Salam) Fayyad gave (recently) to a police
unit graduating from training in Tubas, how the Prime
Minister made clear that there would be no more chaos, no
more intifadas, no matter what the cost is, no matter if we
pay with our lives. We're not doing this for the Israelis.
We're doing this for the future of our children."
7. (C) Atallah added that many in the IDF still fear the PA
security forces from the years of the Second Intifada. "They
can't forget. And we can't forget IDF attacks on our cities,
our people." He noted, however, that Mizrahi had not fought
in either Intifada. "He's never worked with Palestinians
before," Atallah said, theorizing that Mizrahi's lack of
Intifada experience could mean that he does not harbor
negative preconceived notions of the PA security forces.