Maj. Gen. Hazem Atallah [HA]
NSU: Rami Dajani [RD]
Gen. Amos Gilad [AG]
Dany Kornbluth [DK]
[Note: The meeting took place during a lunch hosted by the Israeli side. The discussion was informal and not structured. Most of the meeting was in Arabic; therefore the English notes may not always capture the full meaning of the proceedings]
AG: Tell me about the meeting in Berlin.
HA: It was a good meeting. We presented 14 detailed projects needed to support the police. It is positive because we are aiming to serve the people, and improve their lives through these projects. Before there were problems because the security apparatuses and their support was often for political purposes, and was manipulated by the international community, instead of serving the population.
We presented the security concept, which you already know, that is a strong police force supported by NSF (with special units) and intelligence.
AG: What are the projects?
HA: For example: riot control, special operations, criminal investigation capacity, laboratories (testing equipment), rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure (eg. stations). The budget is around $120 Million.
P: Why is there a delay in opening the police stations? The prime minister gave his approval – it was already agreed.
HA: There is no money available yet – problems of bureaucracy.
[AG likens PA to Ottoman bureaucracy]
P: This is a problem. The OK was given a few weeks ago.
HA: The spending was approved by the prime minister. The ministry of finance has not yet paid out the funds.
From your side there are cars still stuck at Ashdod.
P: Which cars? From Dayton?
HA: No, cars the PA bought [description]
P: We will look into it. But, before you get the $120 million, and do these projects, what are you doing now?
HA: Organising, planning, putting the police force in order. For example, in the past each station did its own paperwork, each had its own way of working.
AG: I am glad to hear this. A plan – this is important. Someone is thinking. This is the same with Dr Fayyad. He has a plan. Implementation in the field …
HA: Dr Fayyad works well in the field. As a civilian, he has had a strong dialogue with the security people.
AG: You have internal factional problems with Fayyad.
P: [to RD] This is between us, don’t write it down.
RD: These notes are confidential.
HA: At first there were some problems, but since he started getting results, opposition to him is down. The bottom line is performance – how he delivers.
P: But there is a Fatah issue – that he has a policy of not appointing Fatah people.
HA: No. He has a policy of appointing people with credentials, degrees, expertise. It so happens that many Fatah people don’t qualify.
P: He also goes “on the field” often…
HA: Yes, a lot. He visited with the security officers in Jenin and had lunch with them. He’s been to Biddu, Beit Surik …
P: Unlike Abu Mazen – other than Bethlehem and Jericho, he hasn’t gone on the field.
HA: Jenin is the test that we are serious. In Qabatya today when someone shot at the NSF, they shot back. That is the way, they have to learn to respect the authority of the Palestinian security forces. I understand human rights, but this is not Switzerland. We need to take decisive measures.
AG: I agree – freedom is not chaos (“fauda-stan”). It’s like in the Quran: the straight path …
HA: Or else it’s the fire.
P: Black and white. No grey. After 3 days in Jenin – only 1 gun collected.
[discussion on details of intelligence and security coordination]
P: Changing those people who don’t work properly is important. In Nablus, we tried intelligence coordination. You know it didn’t work. All they did was warn and negotiate and make deals. For 4 days we did not intervene in Jenin. We gave you a chance.
HA: Jenin is different from Nablus.
P: Take the example of Abu [Ghalioun?] cadre of Islamic Jihad in Jenin Camp. They are still negotiating with him and his relatives, instead of taking action –
HA: We need to deal with it. AM has given clear orders to take action.
[Discussion on former Police Chief Kamal Sheikh – P alleging he had ties with Hamas]
P: How are your relations with the other security agencies?
HA: Good but some are envious, because we are working transparently regarding funding; some are used to dealing under the table.
[AG asked about AM’s health, requesting that HA relay his best wishes to the president]
HA: We have weapons still in Jordan that we need to bring in (990 Kalashnikov, 1 million bullets, 350 pistols) – the Serbia ones.
AG: Noted. What do you think of the developments on borders negotiations?
HA: I don’t know. How come you are saying in the media that there is progress on security as well?
AG: I believe they said “tangible progress”.
P: You told AG you didn’t want an army.
AG: On the borders Rami might tell us.
I assure you there are no secret channels on security. Rumors are common in the Middle East.
P: How do you assess the security situation today?
HA: There is definitely some improvement over the last few months.
[Discussion over details of people in various positions and their work]
P: All this is good. How is your fight against “civilian” Hamas: the offices, people in municipalities etc. This is a serious threat.
HA: I don’t work at political level, but I agree we need to deal with this.
P: Hamas needs to be declared illegal by your President. So far it is only the militants that are illegal.
[P says he just received SMS that people have taken over police station in Jenin – HA says this is not true after checking by phone – discussion on Jebril Rajoub going to Jenin to intervene]
HA: There is also the request for tear gas canisters. You previously gave us these, back in 96.
P: We gave some to you for Balata 2 weeks ago. What do you need them for?
HA: Riot control. We want to avoid a situation where the security agencies may be forced to fire on unarmed civilians.
P: Are you actually controlling riots?
HA: Yes. It is needed to control certain situations [gives example]
There is also equipment donated by Canada for riot control. They need to be allowed in ASAP.
AG: For Dayton?
HA: EU COPPS [provides description].
[Discussion of US envoys and their missions]
RD: There is still the issue of your response to our presentation. You said last meeting you will consider it.
AG: I thought we were going to hear more from you.
RD: You were going to present …
[AG side conversation in Hebrew with DK]
AG: It is late now, perhaps we can set another meeting to continue. Next week? Monday or Tuesday?
RD: It’s better to fix a meeting agenda in advance. I can send a draft to Danny. This way we can specify the issues and organise the meeting better.
AG: I agree with the agenda. [instructs DK on following up the matter]
Are there any papers or documents you can hand over to us? It does not have to be official.
RD: No. But we take your request under advisement. We will study it for next time.
P: Will you bring other people [as per previous discussion with HA] to the next meeting?
HA: Not to this meeting. It is a political decision.
P: Maybe we can set two consecutive meetings?
HA and RD: Will consider this possibility.