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PA collapse will be a strategic threat to Israel, says ex-head of military intelligence

Retired Israeli general and Executive Director of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Amos Yadlin on December 5, 2020 [MAZEN MAHDI/AFP via Getty Images]
Retired Israeli general and Executive Director of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Amos Yadlin on December 5, 2020 [MAZEN MAHDI/AFP via Getty Images]

A former head of Israel's military intelligence has warned that the collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA) could be a strategic threat to the occupation state. Amos Yadlin said on Monday that recent weeks had seen a decline in the performance of the PA security services, creating a vacuum exploited by "militants".

Yadlin, who also served as director of the Institute for National Security Studies, said that the army's preoccupation with confronting "militants" in the occupied West Bank, requiring ever greater deployments of troops, will weaken the preparations for more serious security challenges. These, he claimed, arise from the likes of Iran and Hezbollah, and will undermine Israel's international and regional political standing.

He described the survival of the PA as an "Israeli security interest", and insisted that the Palestinian security services should be tasked with thwarting resistance operations instead of the army.

"The [Israeli] security forces will be forced to continue thwarting terrorism during the holidays and until the election," he explained. "However, it is necessary to allow Palestinian security to work, while the army concentrates on the advanced military cells classified as time bombs."

The former official suggested several ways to restore calm in the occupied West Bank with the help of the PA. They include the possibility of returning to the "amnesty for wanted persons" agreement, which was concluded in 2008 with the support of the US administration and the approval of then PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

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Moreover, Yadlin believes that it is good to put the two-state solution on the table to motivate the PA to act against armed groups, even if this option is no longer realistic on the ground. It will be "good" to reactivate this idea to revive the "peace process". The lack of a political horizon, he pointed out, is one reason for the poor performance of the PA in the West Bank, and yet having such a horizon was the basis for the creation of the authority in the first place. The popularity of the PA has fallen, while trust in Hamas and armed resistance among Palestinians has increased.

Yadlin also noted that the PA is unable to pay the wages of its employees, an issue which affects their, and thus the authority's, performance. The fact that the era of Mahmoud Abbas at the PA helm is inevitably coming to an end — he is 87 years old — also has to be considered, because of the conflict over the succession. Armed conflict, he concluded, may see the collapse of the PA and the people switching their allegiance to Hamas.

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