An Israeli takeover of the Palestine Authority…?

Mohammed Dahlan

On the face of it that’s a silly question and the speculation it represents – that Palestinian “President” Abbas could replaced by an Israeli agent or asset – is not worthy of discussion. But before dismissing it readers might do what I did and consider two things.

The first is that Mohammed Dahlan, formerly one of the most powerful Fatah leaders and almost certainly the one who administered for Israel the polonium that killed Arafat, is now putting a big effort into getting rid of Abbas by one means or another and replacing him with – guess who? – himself.

In passing it is interesting to note that according to a recent report in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, Netanyahu’s special envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, is in a secret dialogue with Dahlan who spends his time shuttling between Cairo and the U.A.E. where he currently lives. One assumption has to be that Netanyahu is hoping that if Dahlan became “President” of the PA he would go much further than collaborator Abbas in delivering for Israel. (Also worth noting is that Dahlan speaks fluent Hebrew. He learned to do so during his 11 spells in Israeli jails between 1981 and 1986).

The second consideration is Israel’s track record in successfully placing its agents inside Arab institutions and organizations at very high levels.

I’ll give two examples to make the point but first a note on the need for some precision with the terminology. In the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the terms collaborator and agent or asset are not necessarily one and the same.

At leadership level a collaborator is a Palestinian who, out of weakness and to protect his own position and interests, is prepared to do more or less what is required of him by Israel and America, but who does it with reluctance (and may even have a problem sleeping at night for doing it). In that light it can be said that Abbas and many of his leadership colleagues have been collaborators with Israel and America.

An agent or asset is a Palestinian who serves Israel’s purposes with enthusiasm in order to advance his own interests (and probably does not have a problem sleeping at night). Dahlan’s record suggests that he is an Israeli agent or asset. (He is also well connected to the intelligence services of America, Egypt and some of the Arab Gulf states). But more of this in a moment.

One of the most successful Israeli agents was Eli Cohen. His devout Jewish and Zionist father was from Aleppo in Syria and moved to Alexandria in Egypt where Eli was born in 1924.

Eli Cohen’s role in the first half of the 1960′s for Mossad and Israel’s Directorate of Military Intelligence was to insert himself into Syria’s political and military establishments at the highest level. To do this he posed as a Syrian businessman returning from Argentina where he went to create his cover. (While he was in Argentina he had unlimited funds available for the purpose of taking care of all the needs of visiting Syrian leaders and businessmen. Their needs included whores, alcohol and loans).

In Syria Israeli spy Eli Cohen became Chief Adviser to the Minister of Defence. And there were some in the top levels of Israel’s intelligence community who entertained the thought that their man could perhaps go all the way and become Syria’s president.

As it happened it all ended badly for Eli Cohen. In January 1965, with some assistance from Soviet experts, Syrian counter-intelligence officers uncovered his spying activities; and on 18 May 1965 he was publicly hanged in the Marieh Square in Damascus.

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