Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Palestinian Reformers Reject US Pressure on Security ; CIA Chief Tenet Is in the Mideast; Monday He May Push Palestinian Security Reform

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Palestinian Reformers Reject US Pressure on Security ; CIA Chief Tenet Is in the Mideast; Monday He May Push Palestinian Security Reform

Article excerpt

The US is touting Monday's visit by CIA director George Tenet as an effort to reach out and help Palestinians put their jumbled security forces back in order.

But some Palestinian advocates of reform see the visit as more evidence that the Bush administration is focused much more on security as defined by Israelis than democracy as defined by Palestinians.

Mr. Tenet's security-related visit comes after a trip this weekend by William Burns, the assistant secretary of state. Though Mr. Burns's mandate is to focus on diplomacy and PA institution- building, he did not, according to US diplomats, take a public stand on the central demand of the Palestinian reformers: elections to give new legitimacy to the legislative council elected more than six years ago.

"Bush is beginning with the security services to safeguard Israel security," says Ziad Abu Amr, chair of the politics committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council. "The US motives and targets for reform are different than ours. We are very skeptical about Bush's intentions, we think the administration is seeing eye to eye with [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon's idea of reform, restructuring the PA in a way receptive to Israel's political and security needs."

Israel, for its part, has been defining reform as meaning the neutralization of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. "With Arafat there can be no reforms, and if there are any, they will not be credible or acceptable to us," Mr. Sharon was quoted as telling Burns.

Mr. Abu Amr says Palestinian reformers have three central goals: forcing Arafat to join in establishing the rule of law, obtaining a separation of powers, and ensuring that the Palestinian cabinet is accountable to the Palestinian legislative council.

"Elections [are] the ultimate form of reform, but this does not mean the process of reform should be frozen until elections are held," he says. Changing the security forces, he says, should come only as part of that broader context.

Should Arafat not respond to the demands for reform, or carry out security reforms simply to please the United States and Israel, "he will lose a great deal," Abu Amr says.

Forces may be consolidated

Arafat will discuss with Tenet a plan that would cut the number of security forces from about a dozen to four, according to a recent report in al-Quds newspaper. The four would be: internal security, external security, police, and national security. There is also talk of appointing Mohammed Dahlan, the Gaza security chief, as a type of overseer of the four forces. He would be supervised by Arafat.

The idea of making changes under American pressure is not popular with some of Mr. Arafat's supporters. "The problem with all of this American and Israeli talk about reform is that even if we were able to come up with the biggest genius to lead the security apparatus, who would be able to control the very breathing of the people and to prevent even birds from crossing into Israel, would this last without Palestinian independence and freedom? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.