The Palestinian Authority has plans to use an international human rights organization as a front for intelligence gathering and discrediting Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, according to documents leaked to a number of Palestinian news websites over the weekend.
The documents also appeared on the PA’s official news agency Wafa, but were quickly removed under the pretext that they are “fabrications.”
The agency claimed that hackers infiltrated its website and posted the documents.
Earlier, the agency announced that the PA has decided to establish a commission of inquiry to look into the documents out of fear that the case could embarrass the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. Later, however, the agency removed the report, again claiming that it had been planted on its website by hackers.
Palestinians said on Saturday that the documents were released by supporters of former Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan and Muhammad Rashid, who for many years was Yasser Arafat’s financial adviser.
Both Dahlan and Rashid are staunch rivals of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The two men are also wanted by the PA for their role in corruption and embezzlement of public funds.
There was no way to verify the authenticity of the leaked documents.
According to the documents, the PA’s General Intelligence Service in the West Bank is planning to use the Global Network for Rights and Development as a front for espionage activities.
GNRD was established in Geneva in 2008 with the aim of enhancing and supporting human rights and development by adopting new, creative strategies and policies to achieve lasting change.
The documents are said to be part of a “classified report” prepared by the PA’s General Department of Palestinian External Security.
The plan envisages using GNRD as a front for the establishment of an “effective and credible international human rights group that would be based in Geneva and whose goal would be to defend Palestinian causes” and collect information.
The cost of the project is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.
The report points out the important role of NGOs’ in shaping public opinion and affecting decision-making worldwide.
“These NGOs have a green card to enter any place in the world and operate freely under various pretexts,” the report said. “But we in Palestine are lacking many elements of power.”
The report claimed that many Western countries, including France, Britain and the US, have been using human rights organizations as a “striking arm” to affect policies around the world and remove governments from power. The report referred specifically to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and claims that they are funded and backed by Britain and the US, respectively.
The report recommended that the PA set up a similar “striking arm” that would operate out of Geneva and have representation in at least 50 countries. It said that the main mission would be to gather intelligence with the help of Western nationals.