Leaks reveal that the increasingly violent and repressive Palestinian Authority security forces have been trained by British government-affiliated contractors with US money.
Since 2015, Britain has pumped vast sums annually into a “Middle East Peace Process Program.”
In an official summary of the effort, lofty rhetoric about protecting the vulnerable, upholding humanitarian law, and working for peace abounds. Yet its core – if not sole – objective is made very clear from the start. Namely, constructing institutions within the Palestinian Authority (PA) that are “ready for statehood, [and] supportive of UK values and interests.”
Leaked files reviewed by The Cradle show these British initiatives have a “particular emphasis on the security sector,” which is understandable. After all, it is arguably only through maintaining a powerful and repressive security apparatus that the corrupt, unelected, Israeli-directed PA can remain in power.
These documents show that London plays an intimate role in shaping, managing, and staffing the PA’s Security Forces and its methods of repression – by way of Adam Smith International, a controversial British government contractor.
Since 2012, the company has reaped millions “building the capacity of the Palestinian Authority Security Forces,” and “discrete areas of the Ministry of Interior,” in order to “professionalize” the Authority’s other “security institutions.”
Conducted primarily in the context of the United States Security Coordinator (USSC) mission to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, through a nexus of “embedded mentors,” the British firm provides “technical assistance, training, and on-the-job guidance” to different Security Force departments, including the Palestinian civil police, intelligence agencies, and “civil protection” units.
“Strategic advice” is also provided directly to the US Security Coordinator “on the institutional development of the police sector,” while the PA’s Media Centre receives assistance in “strategic communications” campaigns to “support their programme for achieving statehood by maintaining public support” – in other words information warfare operations, designed to manipulate and pacify Palestinians.
‘Not the easiest of tasks’
Other leaked files demonstrate that the training and services provided by Adam Smith International to the PA Security Forces are distinctly British in character.
A self-professed “highlight” of this support has been the establishment of a “Palestinian Officers Academy” styled on Sandhurst military school, where the British Army’s elite class are trained. Adam Smith International boasts that it drafted the “business case” for the Academy, cleared “design and development plans” with the Security Forces and Interior Ministry, and secured “a multi-million-pound budget” for its launch and operation.
Students at the Academy receive a nine-month-long “practical leadership curriculum” with “over 1,700 lesson plans” in English and Arabic, overseen by 12 international and 30 Palestinian staffers. Adam Smith International also advised the PA’s military training director “on how to strengthen the design and delivery of training” across the Security Forces, advising on “course design, delivery methodology, organizational structure, as well various training-related operational matters, such as resourcing, course coordination and management of training infrastructure.”
Adam Smith International guaranteed access to “discrete areas” of the PA Interior Ministry, and “buy-in” to its training operations from senior Security Forces staff, by embedding a “specialist military technical advisor” within the latter’s ranks. While unnamed in the files, the company refers to Anthony Malkin, former head of leadership training at Sandhurst.
From 2000 – 2005, he was Britain’s defense attache in the United Arab Emirates – in his own words serving as “the interface between the UK Ministry of Defence and the UAE General Headquarters,” and “[developing] policy lines at ambassadorial and ministerial level whilst supporting defense sales.”
For Adam Smith International, Malkin worked to “improve operational capability” of the Palestinian Authority’s civil police, armed forces, and intelligence services, “training, mentoring and advising leaders and staff.” Along the way, he “[showed] he can operate well in a culture of ambiguity, and has been flexible in adapting as the job has evolved to reflect wider political and military influences.”
“He is the only international consultant embedded at this high level within the [Security Forces]; his deep contextual understanding and Arabic language skills have gained him the respect of key interlocutors,” Adam Smith International approvingly noted. “Our advisor has ensured the buy-in of senior personnel, and thus the long term success of the [Palestinian Officers Academy]…through exercising well-apportioned patience, tact and diplomacy which has built strong and trusting relationships.”
Malkin left the post in 2016, after three years. In December of that year, he published a LinkedIn blog outlining his experience building the Officers Academy. It is rife with extraordinary insights, such as there being “considerable intelligence liaison between the Israeli and Palestinian Security Forces,” both in regards to alleged threats posed by the West Bank’s “immediate neighbors” but also “internal threats to safety and security.”
Malkin explained that he encountered numerous obstacles in getting the Academy off the ground, “the most taxing” of which was ensuring “Israeli acceptance of the project and their tacit approval,” given it would necessitate training Palestinians in using rifles and pistols, and Israel bans Palestinians from owning or possessing “any heavy weapons.” Approval was eventually given, “provided that no sniper training was involved!”
Securing US Security Coordinator mission backing for the endeavor was likewise “not the easiest of tasks,” as it was “an essentially British-centric project based on UK’s leadership doctrine, but with a US budget.” Nonetheless, “despite considerable initial misgivings and protestations, a multimillion-dollar budget was released.”
Calling the tune
Subsequently, Malkin conducted “battlefield tour presentations regarding Israel’s military history” on behalf of Adam Smith International and the US Security Coordinator mission. He also self-published a book, The Tortuous Birth of a Nation, “for the enthusiast wanting to explore and discover more about Israel’s military history,” and moonlights in “cross-cultural consultancy” between Israel and the UAE.
Such exploits are instructive as to where Malkin’s affiliations and sympathies truly lie. So too, does his account of the project expose the bleak reality of the unelected Palestinian Authority. It is a foreign-created and controlled entity that does not govern or exert power in the interests and service of residents of the Occupied Territories, but rather in the interests of western governments and Israeli apartheid.
From the UK Foreign Office’s perspective, steering the PA’s activities and composition ensures it not only remains “supportive of UK values and interests,” but also allows London’s domestic and foreign security and intelligence services to train an unblinking eye on residents of Gaza and the West Bank. As a result, potential threats of retaliatory violence arising from Tel Aviv’s brutal assaults in the Occupied Territories – both to Israel and Britain – can be neutralized via local actors.
British infiltration of the Palestinian Authority is a long-running story, and its security infrastructure has always been a primary target. In 2004, the government of Tony Blair dispatched veteran senior British police officer Jonathan McIvor to assist the body.
The next year, he was employed by the European Union to establish the Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (COPPS), Brussels’ first “security” mission in Palestine – which increases cooperation between the PA’s military, security, policing, and intelligence wings, and Israeli occupation forces – in advance of its formal launch in early 2006, and served for some time as its first chief.
Questions can only abound as to whether McIvor’s high-level stint within the Royal Ulster Constabulary, a police force in Northern Ireland notorious for vicious discrimination against the province’s Catholic minority, and intensive collusion with loyalist terrorist groups, informed tactics employed today by the Palestinian Authority.
It was in Northern Ireland that Britain perfected “five techniques” of psychological and physical torment, which formed the basis of modern torture worldwide, along with a strategy of “internment without trial” for terror suspects.
In 1976, a secret directive gave the Royal Ulster Constabulary free rein to employ these techniques whenever its officers wished, which endured well into the 1990s, concurrent with McIvor’s tenure with the force. The Palestinian Authority has been confirmed to widely engage in arbitrary arrests and torture of detainees, typically at Israel’s behest.
Now that the PA is proving increasingly ineffective at quelling peaceful and armed resistance to both its brutal rule and Israeli ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Territories, the ‘expert’ guidance of Adam Smith International and other British government contractors has perhaps never been so urgently in need.