The Palestine Papers
Letter from Erekat to Dayton Re: Legal Status of NSF

Letter from Erekat to Dayton dated May 25, 2006, in which Erekat addresses Dayton's concerns on the legal status of the Palestinian National Security Force.

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May 25, 2006



Lieutenant-General Keith Dayton

US Security Coordinator

US Embassy, Tel Aviv


Via Facsimile


Dear Sir,


I am writing in response to your question regarding the legal status of the National Security Force (NSF), particularly with respect to its relationship with the Presidency of the Palestinian Authority.


By way of background, the NSF was established in 1994 and functioned under the direct authority of the late President Arafat. Last year, President Abbas placed the NSF within the framework of the Ministry of Interior by decree, but did not relinquish his ultimate authority over the NSF. This arrangement was meant to facilitate reforms for the consolidation of the Palestinian security sector. At present, and following the dissolution of the previous PA cabinet, the President has  terminated the delegation of his powers by reasserting his legal authority over the National Security Force.  


The legal and constitutional authority of the President over the NSF is found in the Basic Law, which grants him the powers of “Supreme Commander” for Palestinian forces. This authority is consistent with the role of the President as the highest decision-making office in the PA hierarchy with respect to issues of national security.


Certain legislation which could arguably challenge the President?s powers was indeed introduced in the context of security sector reform plans under the previous government. Most importantly, The Service in the Palestinian Security Services Law refers to the Minister of National Security as the head of the NSF; however, it requires the President to appoint the NSF General Commander. As the distinction between Minister of Interior and Minister of National Security was not implemented by the end of the term of the last government, and the latter ministry was never created, these provisions have no meaningful effect. The President therefore retains his fundamental authority outlined in the previous paragraph..


I hope this letter sufficiently addresses your question. Should you have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to communicate them to me.




Dr. Saeb Erekat

Chief Negotiator, NAD, PLO