Supplying Weapons to the PA: A Potentially Costly Mistake

The decision to supply American military equipment, weaponry, and cyber warfare tools to the PA via Jordan for the purpose of combating terrorism has raised concerns. Israel appears to be repeating past mistakes, as PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has shown reluctance in effectively addressing the issue of terrorism. This decision might enable the PA to employ these weapons against Israel in the future.

The Israeli political leadership recently greenlit the transfer of armored vehicles, advanced weaponry, and listening and cyber warfare equipment from Jordan to the PA in Judea and Samaria.

These weapons were supplied by the Biden administration to aid in the “war against Palestinian armed groups.”

Sources within Jerusalem’s political circles have indicated that the Biden administration exerted considerable pressure on Israel to approve this move.

Israel’s agreement was influenced by the impending meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden in New York and a desire to avoid accusations of undermining the PA by the American administration.

PA officials have argued that Hussein al-Sheikh, the secretary-general of the PLO’s executive committee, successfully convinced the Biden administration that the PA required this military and intelligence equipment to counter armed terrorist groups in Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, and regain control of northern Samaria.

The Hamas movement swiftly condemned this decision, urging members of the PA’s security forces to support “resistance fighters” and protect Palestinians from Israeli occupation forces.

It appears that the PA has, once again, managed to manipulate both the U.S. and Israel and evade the fight against armed terrorist groups in northern Samaria.

The root problem is not a shortage of military equipment for counterterrorism but rather the lack of determination and motivation on the part of the PA Chairman to combat these groups.

Mahmoud Abbas is apprehensive that a PA-led offensive against these armed groups in Samaria could further incite the Palestinian population, potentially leading to a civil war that would destabilize his regime.

Consequently, PA security forces mainly target criminals or opposition activists who openly criticize the PA and its leadership.

In February 2023, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas rejected a security plan proposed by the Biden administration to combat terrorism in Judea and Samaria.

U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken presented a plan developed by General Mike Fenzel, which called for establishing a special Palestinian force trained in Jordan with American funding to combat terrorism in northern Samaria.

Abbas refused, citing concerns about appearing as Israel’s defense subcontractor and the potential for civil unrest in the region.

The Palestinian Authority’s security forces possess tens of thousands of weapons, including armored vehicles acquired in the past with Israel’s approval.

The Fatah movement, led by Mahmoud Abbas, also maintains a substantial arsenal.

What is lacking is a resolute commitment from the PA leadership to eliminate armed terrorist groups.

Furthermore, it is essential to question the rationale behind providing advanced technological equipment for cyber warfare to the PA.

It is clear that these tools could be used for espionage, surveillance of Israel’s security forces, and intelligence gathering.

The PA is unlikely to use cyber equipment to combat incitement on social networks, given its own record of incitement against Israel through media, the education system, and social platforms.

The PA continues to provide monthly salaries to terrorists and their families.

In conclusion, the PA has once again managed to manipulate the American administration and Israel by portraying itself as committed to combating terrorism while maintaining its primary focus on preserving its rule in Judea and Samaria and securing financial aid.

Israel’s failure to learn from past mistakes may carry significant consequences in the future.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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