- With Sharon’s plan for disengagement drawing nearer, Israeli and international media continue to focus on the eminent problem of transferring Jewish residents of Katif/Gaza, paying with little or no attention to clause five of the plan, adopted by the government of Israel on June 6th, 2004, which calls for training Palestinian security forces. And during the Palestinian elections, the Israeli defense establishment allowed guns to be supplied to Palestinian security forces to keep law and order, despite numerous killings and intimidations.
These past two weeks, we spent many days at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, asking members of of the Knesset about whether and how the Palestinian armed forces were supposed to relinquish their guns after the elections. However, numerous MK’s were unaware that Israel allowed the Palestinians to carry guns during the election process, just as much of the public knows nothing of clause five of Sharon’s plan.
During the Oslo process, it was questionable whether or not supplying guns to Palestinians would be beneficial to their autonomy or backfire against Israel. Labor party MK and former head of Mossad, Dani Yatom, told us that even before the Palestinian security forces were formed, almost every house and every man was armed.
Since Oslo, it has been clearly evident and proven that guns supplied to the Palestinian security forces were turned against Israel. This week marks the one year to the date of the bombing of bus #19, blown up by a Palestinian police officer in Jerusalem.
Ten Israeli citizens and one Ethopian citizen were murdered in cold blood in that bombing. When asked whether it was a tragic mistake to allow Palestinians more weapons, Yatom gave a surprising response, saying that “I don’t think it was a tragic mistake.” He reiterated that the Palestinians must have a strong police force and that the EU must make sure that none of these trainees include anyone from terrorist organizations. Yatom would not say how the EU was supposed to monitor the Palestinian security forces from recruiting anyone from Palestinian terrorist organizations.
Indeed, this week, Abu Mazen gave orders to one of the most well know Palestinian terrorist organizations, The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to merge into the Palestinian security forces. Yatom acknowledgeD that it was unfortunately true that the Palestinian weapons were turned against Israel, but said that it is the duty of Abu Mazen to control those who carry weapons by authorizing exactly one force that demonstrates loyalty to the PA and that only this force should be armed while all others are disarmed. He estimated that there are 40,000 small arms in the territories. Yatom said that he believed the PA has more then enough weapons to cope effectively with terrorists and that there is no need to allow them to import more weapons from Egypt and Jordan into the territories.
According to Yatom, in order for there to be any prospect of peace, the security fence must be completed as a vital life saving apparatus to block suicide bombers. Also, Yatom said, “Israel must leave the door wide open to constantly resume negotiations once the conditions are ripe”.
Yatom, who was also the chief of staff during the short term of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), did not have an answer as to the possibility that Abu Mazen might not be willing to reign in terror groups.
An opposition leader, Yisrael Beiteinu MK, Avigdor Lieberman, says that he doesn’t believe that Israel should be allowing any weapons to Palestinians, considering the current situation.
“The decision that Sharon took to give them a free hand, and the result I see this morning fourteen Kassam’s hit Sderot today,” said Lieberman on the day that we interviewed him.
The chairman of the Israel foreign affairs and security committee, Dr. Yuval Shteinitz, also believes that it is not necessary for Israel to give the PA weapons and says, “let them first do what is necessary.”
“What the PA is lacking is not capabilities, but willingness” said Dr. Shteinitz.
We asked Ehud Olmert, Israel’s deputy Prime Minister, what he feels about clause five of Sharon’s plan to train and rely on Palestinian security forces, in light of the possibility that Palestinian forces in Gaza, and that they might turn on Israel
Olmert’s response was that “these are all important questions. Do not expect me to answer on the spot, however”.
We then faxed a question to Olmert and to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, asking how they could allow the Palestinian security forces to be armed and deployed, given the fact that the PLO remains in a state of war with Israel, since the PLO has never cancelled the PLO covenant which defines the PLO’s purpose as the annihilation of the state of Israel, albeit in stages.
O Olmert’s office did not respond. Sharon’s press secretary did respond, and called us to say that “The Israeli government is not supplying the Palestinian armed forces with weapons”, to which we responded that this was not the question. The question was why the Israeli government would protect and facilitate the redeployment of an armed force at war with the State of Israel. No answer was received to that query.
So there you have it. For whatever reason, Israel has facilitated the re-arming of an entity that remains in a state of war with the state of Israel.
Hard to believe.
But then again, the government of the nascent state of Israel thrives on miracles to overcome its own policies.