'US generals in Israel in turf battle'

Defense officials cite power struggles between Gen. (Ret.) James Jones and Lt. -Gen. Keith Dayton.

keith dayton 224.88 (photo credit: US Department of Defense)
keith dayton 224.88
(photo credit: US Department of Defense)
A report expected to be released by the United States security coordinator to Israel will reveal a turf war going on between two American generals sent by the State Department to the region, Israeli defense officials said Wednesday. Author of the report Gen. (ret.) James Jones was appointed security envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice following the Annapolis Conference in November. While earlier media reports have claimed that the document will slam Israel for its policies in the territories, Israeli defense and diplomatic officials told The Jerusalem Post this week that the report would instead reflect the tension between Jones and another American security envoy operating in the region - Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton. The US currently has three generals here doing three different tasks, a situation that Israeli diplomatic officials have said naturally invited a degree of tension and "turf battles." The first general is Lt.-Gen. William Frazier, who is charged with the operational task of prodding both the Palestinians and the Israelis to fulfill their road map obligations. The second is Dayton, whose job can be described as one of "applied logistics." He has been described as the "force provider," the individual charged with training and equipping the Palestinian forces so that they are capable of carrying out security duties. Then there is Jones, whose role is of a more strategic nature. He is mandated with analyzing what both Israel and the Palestinian's security needs will be when a Palestinian state is formed. "There is tension between Jones and Dayton," a senior defense official told the Post. "The report needs to be looked at as part of an American domestic power struggle and is less about Israel and its policies in the territories." Since his appointment less than a year ago, Jones has made several visits to Israel and met with all of the senior Israeli defense officials, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau Amos Gilad, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav. IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, currently in the US, met with Jones in Washington on Tuesday. According to the defense official, the report would focus on the failure to establish an effective PA security apparatus and as a result likely conclude that the chances of reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians by the end of 2008 were slim. "The report will have more criticism for the diplomatic echelon in Israel and the US," said another security official who recently met with Jones. "It will also criticize Dayton since the report will conclude that law-enforcement institutions - which Dayton was supposed to help create - do not really exist." Israeli diplomatic sources said they did not know when Jones would issue his report, but they did not get the impression during a meeting with him 10 days ago that the report would be particularly critical of Israel. The thrust of the report, the officials said, would be to define the future security relationship between Israel and a future Palestinian state, and what would be needed both for Israel and the new Palestinian state's security needs.