The new Palestinian unit will be tasked with securing European Union facilities in the eastern part of the capital and maintaining order in the area. The 80 Palestinians to be selected for the highly coveted job will be trained and guided by British company Saladin Security.
The project has been arranged by the EU, which intends to train the Palestinians to serve as a highly skilled police force to maintain the order in Arab areas in Jerusalem, and later on across the Palestinian Authority.
Saladin Security, which was established in 1978, provides training and security services in dozens of countries and was set up by veterans of the elite SAS unit.
Saladin, or in its previous name, KMS, has already been entrusted with some controversial operations in the past. Among other things, its members trained the Islamic rebels fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. The Muslim fighters trained by the company eventually managed to take over the country.
Elsewhere, in 1984 Saladin was hired for the purpose of carrying out sabotage acts in Nicaragua, as part of secret US support for the anti-Communist Contras. Later on, the US Congress banned direct aid to the Contras.
Applying for gun permitsAt this time, Saladin prepares to embark on its latest mission, in Israel. The EU already submitted a request to Israel for gun permits to be issued to the former British troops who will be training future Palestinian combatants.
A senior European intelligence official expressed his surprise at Israel's willingness to allow Saladin to operate in Israeli territory. Meanwhile, the IDF, Justice Ministry, Prime Minister's Office, and Israel Police said they were unfamiliar with the issue, or alternately suggested to refer questions to other officials.
Meanwhile, the EU confirmed that Saladin Security has been selected "to provide security protection services."
"Saladin Security will not train Palestinian security guards but will brief and coach their staff to ensure the quality of the service. In compliance with Israeli regulations, the members of the close protection team, composed of EU nationals, receive their weapon license from the competent Israeli authorities," the EU said. "Due to the sensitivity of security issues, the Commission is not in a position to provide additional information as regards its security arrangements."
Later, the EU’s Press & Information Manager, David Kriss, issued the following response: “The EU would like to clarify that it has not hired UK Saladin Security to train a special Palestinian unit to be deployed in East Jerusalem. The EU has contracted UK Saladin Security to provide protective security services (guarding services, access control, night watch, etc.) strictly and exclusively for EU staff and premises. Mr. Kriss also added that the EU is training the "blue" PA police but in other frameworks.
In response to a lengthy list of detailed questions handed over to Saladin, the company provided the following response: "Thank you for your letter of 24 June 2010. It is the policy of this company never to comment on specific contracts and its clients’ affairs. You may wish to contact the European Commission in Brussels for any further comment."