Cablegate: Shin Bet Chief On Goi-Pa Security Cooperation


DE RUEHTV #0047/01 0081405
P 081405Z JAN 10

S E C R E T TEL AVIV 000047



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/06/2020

B. 09 JERUSALEM 2317
C. 09 TEL AVIV 2830

Classified By: Ambassador James B. Cunningham; reasons 1.4 b/d

1. (S/NF) During a January 5 meeting, Israeli Security Agency (ISA) Director Yuval Diskin gave a frank account of the December 26 Israeli operation in Nablus and his assessment of the current state of Israel-PA security cooperation. Diskin noted that he had publicly cited real improvements across the board in PASF willingness and ability to target Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror networks on the West Bank. He said he was also satisfied with the level of information and intelligence sharing between the PA and the GOI, which he characterized as "not fully transparent, but transparent enough." Diskin noted that bilateral security cooperation is the best that it has been in the last 16 years, since the Oslo Agreement. He added, however, that this impressive progress had to be measured from a very low base; things had been so bad in the past that many root problems remain.

2. (S/NF) In particular, said Diskin, the PASF finds it difficult to act against Fatah-linked groups, like the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, with the same speed and reponsiveness that they show against Hamas or PIJ targets. It was this sense of reluctance to act that led the GOI to move on its own against the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade cell identified as the killers of Rabbi Hai. Diskin said that the ringleader, XXXXXX, was a protege of XXXXXXX and was vying for influence in Nablus with another participant in the "fugitive program," XXXXXXX, whom Diskin characterized as a positive influence. He said that his people on the ground in the West Bank had received strong indications that the PASF considered XXXXX, a former Tanzim militiaman, "untouchable." According to Diskin, XXXXX had been working very hard to restore the old Fatah terror infrastructure in Nablus.

3. (S/NF) Diskin said neither Shin Bet nor the PASF had had any alert about the attack on Rabbi Hai. He regretted that the IDF had killed XXXXX and two of his three accomplices, since they would have been useful in helping determine the extent of the XXXXXX network. However, forensic evidence left no doubt that a weapon belonging to XXXX was the murder weapon. Diskin added that the PASF has since uncovered more weapons and explosives cached by XXXXX and his accomplices, but has not yet briefed the GOI or turned over the materiel. A fourth accomplice, who Shin Bet believes was the driver of the vehicle from which Rabbi Hai was shot, is a PA Preventive Security employee, according to Diskin, who was arrested by the PASF the evening of the murder and is still being interrogated. Another in custody is also a PA employee. Diskin said the Palestinians had been very discomfited by a PASF employee being involved in the attack, adding that he had gone out of his way not to add to their embarrassment.

4. (S/NF) Diskin stressed that the GOI respects the fugitive agreement and has never violated it. He added that the PASF has still not met all of the conditions of the deal. Diskin said that he had had a very tense conversation with PM Fayyad on the 26th during which he had pointed out that the PASF had still not collected weapons from about a third of the fugitives covered by the deal. According to Diskin, he told Fayyad that he should leverage the current situation and Israeli respect for the terms of the agreement to enforce the conditions of the deal and begin collecting weapons. In Diskin's view, stepping up weapons collection would be a major signal that the PA is serious about moving forward with security cooperation; he hinted that the GOI would be ready to respond by expanding the fugitive program. However, in Diskin's view, PSO Director Ziad Hab-al-Rih is not yet ready to deliver on the remaining weapons commitments. Diskin said this was not yet a strategic problem for the GOI, but it would become one if it were ignored. He said the ability of the PASF to deal with Fatah groups is the "framework" for mutual security assurances and the PA must deliver on it. Diskin said he would give the PA two or three weeks to let things calm down and then would raise weapons collection with Abu Mazen.

5. (S/NF) Diskin said he had had follow-on meetings with PASF contacts that were "friendly, professional and sincere." In his view, however, they were not "full and frank" because the current PA political culture does not yet permit it. Diskin said the PA had contained the event, which was not easy for them to do politically, and he gave high marks to Fayyad for demonstrating leadership by visiting Nablus on the day of the funeral. Regarding Fayyad's pitch for increased authority in areas of the West Bank, Diskin said this is a political question that needs to be negotiated. As a security professional, Diskin said he would support it so long as the PA continues to make progress. "They are not far from full compliance with the fugitive deal," said Diskin, "so how can we use the Nablus events to move forward?"

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