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New US report shows excessive spending on PA security services

By Missing Peace
Palestinian Security ServicesPalestinian Security Services

On Wednesday February 6th US Congress released a new report (see below) about aid to the Palestinian Security Services.

Since 2007 approximately $ 645 million has been spent on training and infrastructure assistance by the US. For 2013 an additional $ 70 million has been requested by the Obama administration.

The report also mentions that the US, in coordination with other Western countries, has trained more than 6000 personnel of the Palestinian security services since 2007. Among them two Presidential Guard (PG) 40 battalions (1,078 personnel).

Earlier a report issued by MAS, the Palestinian Economic Policy Research Institute, revealed that the Palestinian security services take up over 31% of the Palestinian Gross Domestic Product for 2011.

According to MAS researcher Ahmad Qabajeh, the security services take up much bigger of a chunk of the budget than needed, saying that the number of employees working in the security sector exceeds those working in the education, health and social affairs sectors together.

In his report, Qabajeh calls for a decrease in security expenses and a reassessment of the need of the Palestinian society for this amount of security apparatuses and personnel. Qabajeh said there were 64,687 security employees out of the 153,000 government employees, adding that 31% was a very high percentage. ( more details below)

So  foreign donors pay for the training and infrastructure of the Palestinian Security Services (PSS).

Nevertheless  Palestinian Security services took up over 31% of the Gross Domestic Product in the PA for 2011.  On a population of just over two million  (Hamas in Gaza has its own security apparatus) the PA maintains 64.687 security employees. That means one member of the security services for every thirty civilians. This must be a world record.

By comparison in 2003 the United States had one member of the security services (police and private security) for every 248 citizens.

While the CRS report mentions the use of the PSS against Hamas,  it remains silent on the PSS’ recent crackdown on the Palestinian media and the freedom of expression in general.

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians
Jim Zanotti
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
January 18, 2013
CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
Congressional Research Service
7-5700 www.crs.gov RS22967
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS22967.pdf

..
U.S. Security Assistance to the Palestinian Authority

As mentioned above, aid has been given to train, reform, advise, house, and
provide non-lethal equipment for PA civil security forces in the West Bank
loyal to President Abbas. This aid is aimed at countering militants from
organizations such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and establishing
the rule of law for an expected Palestinian state. An increasing proportion
of this training and infrastructure assistance has been provided to
strengthen and reform the PA criminal justice sector This assistance has
come from the INCLE account—to which a total of approximately $645 million
has been appropriated or reprogrammed for use in the West Bank since 2007.
The Obama Administration has requested an additional $70 million in FY2013
INCLE funding.

Since Hamas gained control of the Gaza Strip, the office of the U.S.
Security Coordinator (USSC) for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (a
three-star U.S. general/flag officer, supported as of mid-2012 by U.S. and
allied staff and military officers from the United Kingdom, Canada, and
seven other countries) has worked in coordination with the State Department’s
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) to
sponsor and oversee training for PA security forces personnel, many of whom
have been newly recruited. To date, nine full PA National Security Forces
(NSF)39 special battalions (4,987 personnel) and two Presidential Guard
(PG)40 battalions (1,078 personnel)
have been trained at the Jordan
International Police Training Center (JIPTC).41 Additionally, approximately
613 members of the PA Civil Defense (firefighters and other emergency
responders) have been trained in Amman at the Jordanian Academy of Civil
Protection.[42]

Now that the initial training of newly-formed battalions has reportedly been
completed, the USSC/INL program appears to be changing its emphasis. At a
July 12, 2011, hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the
Middle East and South Asia, Lieutenant General Michael Moeller, the previous
USSC,[43] outlined some of these changes in the context of expectations for
FY2012:

This year, we will transition the program into the next phase of our
campaign plan: Building institutional capacity. This new phase is less
resource intensive as we move away from primarily providing the Palestinian
security forces with equipment and infrastructure toward an increasingly
direct “advise and assist” role.

In this phase, we will help the PASF develop indigenous readiness, training,
and logistics programs and the capability to maintain/sustain their force
structure readiness and infrastructure. Additionally, the USSC will continue
to support other US rule of law programs that assist the Palestinians to
improve the performance of the Justice and Corrections Sectors.[44]

The USSC/INL security assistance program exists alongside other assistance
and training programs provided to Palestinian security forces and
intelligence organizations by various other countries and the European Union
(EU).[45] Some reports cite the probable existence of covert U.S. assistance
programs as well.[46] By most accounts, the PA forces receiving training
have shown increased professionalism and have helped substantially improve
law and order and lower the profile of terrorist organizations in West Bank
cities.[47] Israeli officials generally support the USSC/INL program,
routinely citing both the PA forces’ greater effectiveness as well as
increased and sustained levels of Israel-PA security cooperation in the West
Bank since the program began. This cooperation, however, renders the PA
vulnerable to criticism from Hamas and others seeking to undermine the PA’s
popular credibility as a champion of Palestinian national aspirations.[48]

Additionally, the aspiration to coordinate international security assistance
efforts and to consolidate the various PA security forces under unified
civilian control that is accountable to rule of law and to human rights
norms remains largely unfulfilled. PA forces have come under criticism for
the political targeting of Hamas—in collaboration with Israel and the United
States—through massive shutdowns and forced leadership changes to West Bank
charities with alleged ties to Hamas members and through reportedly
arbitrary detentions of Hamas members and supporters.[49] More recently,
some observers are questioning how successful the PA has been in bringing
law and order to Jenin and other parts of the northern West Bank that were
previously held out as examples of PA security progress and possible models
for other West Bank areas. Some PA security personnel, including a few
trained with U.S. funding[50] and some who had been granted amnesty from
previous involvement with terrorist groups, have reportedly been involved in
the criminal activity that led to a renewed PA crackdown in the area. One
report asserted that despite these incidents, general security in Jenin
remains much improved since 2007,[51] and many reports document ongoing
efforts by the PA to confront crime and security personnel corruption.
According to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, “What’s going on now is
patching the gaps (in the security establishment) through a focused security
effort.”[52]

Some Palestinians and outside observers assert that the effectiveness and
credibility of PA operations are undermined by Israeli
restrictions—including curfews, checkpoints, no-go zones, and limitations on
international arms and equipment transfers—as well as by Israel’s own
security operations in the West Bank[53] and at crossings into Gaza. Israel
claims that its continuing operations in the West Bank are necessary in
order to reduce the threat of terrorism. It is unclear how concerns about
the effectiveness of the PA security forces might evolve if anti-Israel
protests and occasional instances of Israeli-Palestinian confrontation in
the West Bank increase in frequency and intensity amid heightened tension.
According to one observer:

In the last couple of months, and especially since Israel’s intervention in
Gaza and November’s UN vote on Palestine, a cascade of direct confrontations
between Israeli forces and Palestinians have erupted throughout the West
Bank.[54]

This might in part be motivated by a continued stalemate in negotiating
efforts, PA budgetary problems exacerbated by Israel’s unwillingness to
transfer tax and customs revenue,[55] and new Israeli announcements of
residential construction and planning in West Bank settlements and in East
Jerusalem.[56]

How potential Fatah-Hamas consensus on a PA governing arrangement may affect
the activities of PA security forces in the West Bank is unclear, although
it is possible that these activities will remain largely unchanged until
either PA presidential and legislative elections can be held or Fatah and
Hamas can agree on security coordination for both the West Bank and Gaza.
The likelihood of either contingency occurring is seriously questioned by
many observers.


PALESTINIAN SECURITY SERVICES CONSUME 31% OF THE GDP

According to a report to be issued by MAS, the Palestinian Economic Policy Research Institute, the Palestinian security services take up over 31% of the Palestinian Gross Domestic Product for 2011 at a time when the government is on the brink of bankruptcy and cannot even pay civil servant salaries. According to MAS researcher Ahmad Qabajeh, the security services take up much bigger of a chunk of the budget than needed, saying that the number of employees working in the security sector exceeds those working in the education, health and social affairs sectors together. In his report, Qabajeh calls for a decrease in security expenses and a reassessment of the need of the Palestinian society for this amount of security apparatuses and personnel. Qabajeh said there were 64,687 security employees out of the 153,000 government employees, adding that 31% was a very high percentage. Qabajeh’s breakdown of the budget according to his study is as follows: 11% for the health sector; 19.4% for the education sector; 43% for social services. The PA’s net revenues for 2011 totaled NIS8.5 billion. He also said, according to data from the finance ministry that the overall expenditures for the security and public order sector for 2011 reached NIS3088 billion as of October of that year with NIS2373 billion spent on salaries alone. (http://qudsnet.com/arabic/news.php?maa=View&id=235227)

[42] The information in this paragraph on PA security forces training in
Jordan was provided to CRS on January 14, 2013, by a senior Western official
based in the region.
[43] Vice Admiral Paul Bushong has served as USSC since October 2012.
[44] Testimony of Lt. Gen. Moeller before the House Foreign Affairs
Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, July 12, 2011.
[45] In January 2006, the EU Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police
Support (EUPOL COPPS) was launched to help train and equip the Palestinian
Civil Police. EUPOL COPPS also advises the PA on criminal justice and rule
of law issues. EUPOL COPPS has 70 international staff and 40 local hires in
the West Bank, and an annual operating budget of almost €5 million. See
http://eupolcopps.eu.
[46] See, e.g., Yezid Sayigh, Policing the People, Building the State:
Authoritarian Transformation in the West Bank and Gaza, Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace, February 2011; Ian Cobain, “CIA working with
Palestinian security agents,” guardian.co.uk, December 17, 2009.
[47] Improvements in the PA security forces’ leadership and capacity may
factor into Israeli data that—according to information a senior Western
official based in the region provided to CRS on June 12, 2012—cite a 96%
decrease in West Bank terrorist attacks since 2007. Other factors
contributing to the decline in terrorism may include enhanced Israeli
security measures, Palestinian fatigue with or decreasing appetite for
politically-motivated violence or popular resistance, and various political
and economic incentives and other developments.
[48] Gabe Kahn, “Hamas: PA-Israel Security Cooperation Blocking Unity Deal,”
IsraelNationalNews.com, March 9,2012.
[49] See, e.g., Nathan Thrall, “Our Man in Palestine,” New York Review of
Books, October 14, 2010.
[50] Karin Brulliard, “Drama in West Bank city of Jenin shows cracks in
Palestinian nation-building project,” Washington Post, May 25, 2012.
[51] Ibid.
[52] Ali Sawafta and Noah Browning, “Palestinian Authority cracks down in
West Bank town,” Reuters, June 4, 2012.
[53] These operations underscore the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian
agreements that authorized the creation of Palestinian security forces in
the 1990s in areas of limited Palestinian self-rule contained clauses that
preserved Israel’s prerogative to conduct operations in those areas for
purposes of its own security.
[54] Geoffrey Aronson, “Israeli-Palestinian Security Ties Fail as They
Succeed for PA,” Al-Monitor, January 4, 2013.
[55] See footnote 90.
[56] Many Israelis who support the extension of Israeli civil law over East
Jerusalem—which took place in 1967—refer to Jewish residential areas there
as “neighborhoods”, seeking to distinguish these areas from Jewish
settlements in the West Bank, which remains under Israeli military
jurisdiction. Successive U.S. Administrations and most other international
actors do not draw this distinction. For more information, see CRS Report
RL33476, Israel: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jim Zanotti.

  1. http://5mfi.com/growing-pains/
    Growing pains:
    on February 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm wrote:

    [...] New US report shows excessive spending on PA security services, Missing Peace, 6 Feb 2013 [...]