PA police 88.
(photo credit: )
The Palestinian Authority security forces are on the verge of collapse because of rampant corruption and growing anarchy, according to a letter sent by a large group of PA security officers to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The letter, the first of its kind since Abbas was elected earlier this year, reflects growing resentment among the various branches of the PA security forces. It also contradicts claims by Abbas and senior PA leaders that they have taken practical steps to reform the security forces.
The timing of the letter coincides with the first anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat and is seen as an attempt to embarrass Abbas by portraying him as a weak leader who has failed to deliver.
In their letter, the officers said they rejected pressure from Israel and the US to crack down on local militias.
"We are the soldiers of the homeland, not [US security coordinator] General William Ward," they wrote. "We are neither a branch of the Israeli Shin Bet nor members of a hired gang serving certain centers of power."
But what is perhaps most worrying, as far as Abbas is concerned, is the fact that the officers went on to stress that their weapons would be used only against Israel and suspected "collaborators."
Addressing Abbas, the officers said: "We urge you to get acquainted with what's really happening inside the security forces, which have begun disintegrating because of corruption, mismanagement and placing private interests above the national interests of the people, especially with regard to the state of lawlessness prevalent in the Palestinian territories."
The officers also scoffed at the PA's efforts to consolidate the security forces by reducing their number from more than a dozen to three and retiring veterans.
"These measures have led to dissent among the security forces," they said. "Unless you [Abbas] start paying attention to the situation, the Palestinian security forces will collapse, only to be replaced by armed gangs which the Palestinian Authority won't be able to control."
PA security officials here told The Jerusalem Post that they were not worried by the letter "because it was written by a group of disgruntled officers who had been retired or dismissed."
In another challenge to Abbas, some of the PA's ambassadors in different countries are refusing to give up their posts to newly appointed envoys.
The PA Foreign Ministry recently decided to replace most of its ambassadors as part of a comprehensive plan to reform the diplomatic corps. Some of the ambassadors, who were appointed by Arafat, have been serving for nearly two decades.
But the move has been openly challenged by veteran PLO leader Farouk Kaddoumi, who is based in Tunis and who regards himself as the real foreign minister of Palestine.
Until recently, Kaddoumi was in charge of all the embassies around the world in the capacity of his job as director of the PLO's political bureau. Kaddoumi sent a letter to the ambassadors instructing them to ignore the new appointments and to remain in their posts.
"I wish to inform you that [PA Foreign Minister] Nasser al-Kidwa does not represent the PLO and, as such, he does not have the power to make changes in the diplomatic corps," he wrote.
Two ambassadors have already announced that they would not step down - Tahsin Mikati, ambassador to Qatar, and Abdel Shafi Siam, ambassador to Mauritania. Their decision has seriously embarrassed the PA leadership, which is now trying to persuade the hosting countries to deport the two.