Israeli-Palestinian security ties keep chaos at bay

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 26, 2014

The one clear point that has emerged from the Israeli operation following the kidnapping two weeks ago is that security co-ordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority remains strong. In fact, it is probably the most reliable link in their increasingly shaky relationship. From that we can conclude that the security chiefs are emerging as the most powerful figures in the Palestinian hierarchy.

Calls from within Fatah and other parts of the PA for President Mahmoud Abbas to suspend all co-operation with Israel have been intensifying in recent weeks. Former chief negotiator with Israel, Saeb Erekat, has demanded that a war crimes case be lodged against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

But Mr Abbas has so far taken the opposite route. Not only has he resolutely criticised the kidnappings - along with criticism of the heavy-handedness of Israel's response - but, according to Palestinian sources, he has given complete backing to the heads of his security forces to continue co-operating with Israel. IDF commanders have repeatedly highlighted the successful co-operation over the past two weeks, in some cases creating a clear contrast to the severe tone of their political masters.

Their remarks reflect an understanding within the Israeli security establishment that the joint effort is key to keeping the level of terror in the West Bank and within the Green Line to a minimum.

Of course, the Palestinian security chiefs are no Zionists. Above all, they are concerned about any encroachment of Hamas into their fiefdoms.

Abbas has taken the opposite route to others within the PA

When Mr Abbas signed the reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas two months ago, he was doing so mainly at the behest of the civilian elements within the Palestinian movement. The kidnapping was almost certainly carried out by Hamas members - although it remains unclear whether its headquarters in Gaza was aware of the plan - and has provided him with the opportunity to distance himself from Hamas.

The future of the unity deal is now extremely murky.

As Ramadan approached this week, the Israeli military gradually reduced pressure in the West Bank. In part, this is a recognition that, for now, the security co-ordination remains strong.Israel would be wise to allow it some breathing space.

Clashes last weekend in Ramallah between Palestinian police and anti-Abbas demonstrators could, however, test that relationship and even jeopardise the PA's future if calm is not restored soon.

Last updated: 3:53pm, June 26 2014