- Perhaps the most effective tool against the PLO is the power of the court, where a victim of PLO terror can litigate to tie the billions of dollars of assets of this international terror outfit. While organizations such as the Zionist Organization that have consistently opposed the Oslo process had always favored and endorsed such litigation against the PLO and the PA, the legal departments of mainstream organizations such as the Bnai Brith and the American Jewish Congress have begun to consider legal action against the PLO and the PA. Indeed, the fact that the Bnai Brith issued a working paper on the assets of the PLO transformed the PLO into an easy target for litigants around the world, especially since the PLO holds billions of dollars of investments abroad that make easy targets for litigation.
This past week, the idea of suing the PLO ran into opposition in Jerusalem. Not from the PLO. From the senior staff of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Addressing a plenary session of the Conference of Presidents of 54 Major Jewish Organizations from North America, Danny Shek, the head of the European section of the Foreign Ministry, and Alan Baker, the legal advisor to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pleaded with Jewish organizations not to engage in litigation against the PLO and PA in the courts of the world. Shek and Baker stated that any and all litigation against the PLO and PA abroad would weaken their case that foreign courts should not bring Israeli officials to court, as had occurred in Brussels.
The veteran legal counsel of the American Jewish Congress, Mr Phil Baum, challenged the stand of the Israel Foreign Ministry, favoring litigation against the PLO as a terrorist organization. It will be recalled the American Jewish Congress was one of the most consistent supporters of the Oslo process until the PLO rebellion of Fall 2000. The famous ad of the American Jewish Congress in the New York Times will not be forgotten: “It takes a big organization to admit that it made a big mistake”. Shek and Baker stuck to their guns and reiterated that their position of that suits against the PLO should be taken out of foreign courts.
The position of the Israel Foreign Ministry does not seem to speak in one voice on the matter of litigation against the PLO. In response to the pleas of senior foreign ministry officials not to sue the PLO, the office of Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs Benyamin Netanyahu was that he would not pay attention to Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials said in terms of not suing the PLO
There may have been a deeper reason for Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials telling the Conference of Presidents not to sue the PLO. After all, if the PLO is tied up in litigation as a terror organization, its standing as a peace partner for Israel will be on shaky ground.
On the day that the Israeli foreign ministry officials appeared for the conference, the director of the office of the Prime Minister, Attorney Dov Weisglass, informed theConference that the Israeli government was working intensely to disband illegal terror organizations such as Islamic Jihad and the Hamas He was careful not to mention the Fateh.
Only a few hours earlier, a senior Israeli security official had informed the conference of presidents that the Fateh had carried out more terror attacks than the Islamic terror groups. When Weisglass left the conference hall, I asked Weisglass why he was not calling for the Fateh to be disbanded, since the Israeli government sefined the Fateh as a terror organization.
Weisglass asked me where I got that information about the Fateh being a terror organization. “From your office”. I said, and reminded him that the secretary of the Israel Prime Minister’s office had supplied me with the information that the Fateh was formally defined as an illegal terrorist organization. He then said that the Israeli government relates to the Fateh in a pragmatic fashion, saying that he hoped that “other voices” would be heard from the PLO.I asked Weisglass if he was aware of the Fateh website which provided a questionnaire as to where their members prefer to carry out terror attacks – within the 1949 armistice lines, or beyond the 1967 lines. Weisgalss said that he was not aware of that website. I asked him how it was, then, that his secretary had confirmed that he had received my report on the Fateh website. He shrugged his shoulders. Interestingly, the Israel Government Press Office, working under Weisglass’s authority, distributed copies of the Fateh web site (www. fatehorg.org) more than two months ago to the foreign press based in Israel. I then asked Weisglass how he reacted to the fact that Abu Mazen, widely known as a Palestinian moderate, is the author of a PHD thesis which is used in PA schools today that compares Zionism to a Nazi movement. Weisglass said that he was not aware of that. I asked him why it was then that his secretary confirmed to me that he had received the material that I had forwarded to him about Abu Mazen’s PHD thesis. He shrugged his shoulders and headed for the exit and then on to a flight to Washington
Now we will see if Sharon’s coalition partners, the National Religious Party and the National Unity Party will ask Weisglass tough questions of the Israeli government policies towards the Fateh.
It is now quite clear why Netanyahu lost his position as the Foreign Minister of the State of Israel. “Bibi” was not ready to protect the PLO.