The growing Palestinian Authority army may rebel in two years if a new Arab state is not created soon, according to a dovish journalist’s analysis of comments by Lt. Gen Dayton, who is training the soldiers.
Speaking at a recent Washington symposium sponsored by Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank, Dayton stated in response to a questioner, “There is perhaps a two-year shelf life on being told that you're creating a state, when you're not.”
His comments were tantamount to a warning that a rebellion is around the corner if Israel does not agree to PA demands, according to investigative journalist Robert Dreyfuss, writing in The Nation magazine.
“To my ears, at least, his subtle warning is that if concrete progress isn't made toward a Palestinian state, the very troops Dayton is assembling could rebel,” wrote Dreyfuss, who also has authored a book blaming the United States and Israel for having allegedly encouraged the existence of Hamas as a way to weaken former Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.
In his speech to the think tank, Dayton praised the PA army’s ability and allegiance to law and order while acknowledging that Hamas accused the PA forces of “collaborating” with Israel. The American army officer added that each faction believes it is fighting for an independent PA country.
Dayton cited several examples of cooperation between Israeli military and security officials and the new PA army, which the U.S. has touted as an enemy of terrorism.
He conceded that most of its actions have been aimed against criminals and against Hamas, most evident during the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign in Gaza. The forces do not operate in the middle of the night, when Israeli soldiers carry out nightly counterterrorist maneuvers to arrest wanted terrorists.
In his speech, Dayton did not detail methods used by the PA security forces, but Human Watch Rights has accused bother the PA and Hamas of resorting torture to as well as summary executions. One PA Arab is on death row for the stated crime of selling property to Jews.
He focused on the “national security interest of the United States to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute” and his re-shaping the PA forces. He said that his position as U.S. Security Coordinator was created “to allay Israeli fears about the nature and capabilities of the Palestinian security forces,” a term used instead of "soldiers" in order not to conjure up an image of a military force in the PA.
However, his comment on the consequences of the failure to establish a new PA state indicated that the PA army - or special force - might use its counterterrorist training to attack Israel as well as possibly rebel against the PA.
Several terrorist attacks and attempted attacks the past two years have involved PA security forces. In January, 2008, a PA security officer, a PA clerk and a third terrorist were involved in the murders of Ahikam Amihai and David Rubin who were hiking near Hevron. One of the victims managed to kill one of the attackers before succumbing to his own wounds. A third youth escaped unharmed.
The two remaining terrorists turned themselves in to the PA after fearing that Israeli soldiers would arrest them. Then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not demand their extradition, and a PA court sentenced them to 15 years in prison.