If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas were ever to stand trial before one of his “military” courts in the West Bank, it’s almost certain that he would be sentenced to death for “collaboration” with Israel, too.

The 24 year-old Palestinian police officer serving in the Bethlehem district, was sentenced to death after being found guilty of tipping off the Israeli security forces about the whereabouts of two Fatah gunmen who had been involved in a spree of deadly attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. At the moment, this death sentence is awaiting Mahmoud Abbas’s approval.

Abbas’s status is not much different that of the unfortunate officer or other Palestinians who have been sentenced to death by Palestinian Authority courts on charges of helping Israel in its war against terrorism.

The case against Abbas could even be supported by concrete evidence showing how he and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, had agreed to assist Israel in its war against terrorism.

A number of agreements signed between the Palestinian Authority and Israel over the past 15 years require the Palestinians to combat terrorism in areas under their control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

For example, the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement clearly states that “both sides shall take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against each other, against individuals falling under the other's authority and against their property and shall take legal measures against offenders.”

The same agreement also seeks to guarantee the safety of those Palestinians who had helped Israel since 1967. It states that “Palestinians who have maintained contact with the Israeli authorities will not be subjected to acts of harassment, violence, retribution or prosecution. Appropriate ongoing measures will be taken, in coordination with Israel, in order to ensure their protection.”

Further evidence of the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to help foil terror attacks against Israel was provided in the Palestinian-Israeli Security Implementation Work Plan, which was drafted by former CIA director George Tenet in the summer of 2001.

According to the plan, the security organizations of Israel and the Palestinian Authority “agree to initiate specific, concrete, and realistic security steps immediately to reestablish security cooperation and the situation on the ground.”

The plan calls for the Palestinian Authority to “move immediately to apprehend, question, and incarcerate terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza and to stop any Palestinian security officials from inciting, aiding, abetting, or conducting attacks against Israeli targets, including settlers.”  Under the terms of the plan, the Palestinian Authority “agreed to take preemptive operations against terrorists, terrorist safe-houses, arms depots, and mortar factories.”

True, both Arafat and Abbas didn’t go out of their way to fully implement the agreements. But what is certain is that the two men did authorize their security forces to various forms of security coordination with Israel. And ever since Hamas assumed full control over the Gaza Strip more than a year ago, security coordination between Abbas’s security forces and Israel has grown stronger.

Human rights activists say that more than 80 Palestinians have been sentenced to death for allegedly helping Israel since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. At least a dozen of the convicted defendants were executed by firing squad, while many others were killed by mobs or members of Palestinian armed groups.

According to court documents and eyewitness accounts, almost all “collaborators” were found guilty of passing on information to Israel about the whereabouts or plans of Palestinian gunmen who were involved in terrorism.

In other words, the “collaborators” were actually doing what the Palestinian Authority security forces should have been doing under the terms of the agreements signed with Israel. By sentencing these men to death, Abbas is sending a message to the Palestinian public that anyone who dares to thwart a terrorist attack against Israel will be brought before a firing squad.

The Americans and Europeans who are continuing to fund Abbas’s security forces and judicial system have yet to raise their voice against the death sentences. It’s absurd to imagine that a Palestinian is being sentenced to death for foiling terror attacks by the same Palestinian Authority that is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars and weapons from the US and EU to do the same thing.

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