Who’s Police? Examining the Palestinian Security Services’ role in Palestinian society and the peace process

Xavier Leger Guest


The Palestinian aspiration for independence appeared to take a decisive step forward with the creation of a police and security force following the signing of the Oslo Accords. The Palestinian Authority’s Security Forces’ (PASF) role in Palestinian society over two decades has evolved along major political shifts, to both the benefit and detriment of the Palestinian people. The police and security forces represent both corrupt “Israeli subcontractors” to the occupation as well as a valued national security establishment, and a precondition for a two-state solution. The arrangement underlies a fundamental flaw; that of conducting a security sector reform in the absence of sovereign authority and local ownership of the reform processes, and under military occupation. This paper addresses the role played by the Palestinian security apparatus in Palestinian society from 1993 to today, and its function regarding the peace process, ultimately finding that the partisan nature of the PASF and its subjection to outside interests weakens the advancement of Palestinian statehood. 

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.