Israel PalestineMissions OperationsReport

Welcome to EUPOL COPPS. A proven mission

Welcome to EUPOL COPPS (©Th. Le Bihan / B2)
Welcome to EUPOL COPPS (©Th. Le Bihan / B2)

(BRUSSELS2 to Ramallah) “ It is not an institution that is there to survive but to do the job » says a manager of the European police mission in the Palestinian territories (EUPOL COPPS). During his stay in Palestine, B2 was able to meet two members of EUPOL COPPS for a more informal discussion on developments in the mission and work in the West Bank. The meeting took place at the mission headquarters. The very secure building is located on one of Ramallah's many hills and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

A peaceful environment

What stands out in Palestine is the calm that reigns there, in total opposition to the preconceived ideas that one may have of the country. “ There are no major problems working in the West Bank. It's even rather the opposite” asserts a senior official of the mission. This peaceful situation “ is a good way to see the rendering and impact of the Palestinian police forces ". " Life goes on in the West Bank. We are not safe from an exchange of gunfire, that's true. But it's not the Wild West or at least it's no longer the Wild West like in 2006 or 2007. Security has returned. “Precisely at this time,” there was a more tense situation and therefore more Palestinian police presence. We were more on the alert, increased vigilance, it was security, security… The work was more difficult. We didn't stay in the night districts. And we wouldn't have deployed people in 11 districts at the same time like we are doing now. "Another element, according to an official, " There have been no Israeli killings in the West Bank for 5 years ". Today, the mission is working and seems to have a real impact on the situation and on the ground. But this was not always the case.

The arrival of Hamas to power…

« In 2007, the big spotlight was EUBAM Rafah (the other EU mission in the region in charge of borders) so we were on the sidelines. In July 2006, we were on the verge of death. The special representative told us, "It's not complicated, children. If you want the mission to continue to exist, you must justify your existence. So get moving" ". The mission began in 2006. However, tensions between Hamas and Fatah would reach their peak with the seizure of power by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

« We were in a blocked political framework with an order of non-engagement at a higher level than the police chief, therefore not with the Minister of the Interior and no major technical cooperation because there was a ban on engaging with Hamas.. " EUPOL COPPS therefore found itself " in the middle, with our mandate, our tools. We meet in the middle of the bazaar ". An unfavorable environment for a mission that had just begun.

"Double bites"

« The mandate was quite ambitious, it was necessary to redesign the Palestinian police. "To justify its existence, the mission conducted audits" one carried out by an investigating judge, on the criminal chain, one on the judicial police forces and one on the maintenance of order and it is on the basis of these three audits that we began to develop the activities”.

From the police to the rule of law

From 2008, the mission was extended to the rule of law level, with the creation of a Rule of law section which “ deals with seven areas with one person per team, courts, prosecution, ministry of justice, advice, human rights advice, prison area and draft laws ". Concretely, this branch has accelerated the processing of cases. " Before, there were 30 cases in the morning which were not managed by midday and therefore accumulated ". It was necessary to strengthen the Ministry of Justice, the fight against counterfeits, a fight against corruption " with real success "...

Command rooms common to training

EUPOL Copps also helps with coordination with the establishment of " Joint Operation Centers, common command rooms for all Palestinian security forces and which define who will intervene on what. This was very helpful. This avoids having 36 services arriving on the same call ».

Regarding the training branch of the police, “ We have gone from basic training and the necessary equipment, to now working more at a strategic level ».

The last branch of the mission which deals with programs, improves cooperation between member states on site but also between working groups in the sector and translates the mandate into concrete actions. She also drives small programs, with a budget of 350 euros, therefore projects at 000 euros ».

A more global impact?

This peaceful situation is an element in favor of a solution to the problem between Israel and Palestine. “ We cannot envisage any peace process or negotiations if there is not a stable security situation, so this is a good sign and it gives politicians room for negotiation. This also has an impact on life on the street because no one wants to relive previous situations where there were shootings everywhere, there were militias of all sides moving around in whatever uniforms they wanted. »

  • Staff involved in their mission. A CSDP mission also involves men and women who work, often far from home. " Professionally it matters what you do, on a daily basis we see things progressing. It allows us to evolve and gain enthusiasm. Regarding the lack of knowledge of opinions on the work of the missions, he relativizes, “ As long as the main recipients of the aid are aware, that is to say the Palestinians, and the Brussels community is aware that it is working...", that may be enough.

(Thomas LeBihan)

Read the rest of the report:

Read also: EUPOL Copps unfolds its objectives (K. Deane)

Thomas LeBihan

Student in "Public Affairs European Governance course" at Paris I. Intern at B2. Follows the news of the European Parliament.