Security Establishment: “Sharon, Abu Mazen Meet, Arafat Sponsors Terror”

Ma’ariv (p. 2) by Ben Caspit et al. — On Sunday Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is to depart for the United States, where he will meet with President Bush and leading officials in the US administration. Prior to that, on Saturday night, Sharon will meet with Abu Mazen for a “meeting of mutual demands.”

Sharon is expected to say to Bush that Israel is prepared to begin implementing the first stage of the road map. By taking this course of action, he will attempt to dissolve the criticism of the fact that Israel is the only that has not yet adopted the Bush plan.

Sharon’s strategy in Washington will conform to Colin Powell’s strategy during his visit in Jerusalem: “Let’s begin to move forward, then we’ll see.” Officials in Jerusalem were encouraged yesterday by the results of the preparatory visit that was made by Prime Minister’s Bureau Chief Dov Weissglass to Washington on Wednesday. However, it is clear that the American president is going to demand explanations from Sharon about the continued Israeli settlement activity and the failure to dismantle the illegal settlement outposts in the territories. Sharon also is going to have to explain the multiple contradictions between his recent statements on the issue of settlement evacuation. Sharon intends to show Bush evidence that the Palestinian reforms have not been implemented in full and that Yasser Arafat still controls a substantial part of the Palestinian security and intelligence organizations and a substantial portion of the money. Until Arafat disappears and stops being an influencing factor, no progress will be possible, Sharon will tell Bush.

On Saturday night Sharon is scheduled to meet in the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem with the new Palestinian prime minister, Abu Mazen. Attending on the Palestinian side will be the new security minister, Mohammed Dahlan and the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Abu Ala. Sharon, as far as can be ascertained, does not intend to ask any ministers to join the meeting (even though Mofaz might still be asked). Rather, Sharon wants only his closest aides in attendance, first and foremost Dov Weissglass.

Abu Mazen is expected to demand that Sharon accept the road map unconditionally, halt the military operation in Beit Hanoun and stop the targeted killing operations. Sharon intends to tell Abu Mazen: The time has come for deeds, not more talk and promises. Israel will not be able to proceed with the process until you honor your commitment to engage in a real war on terror, with all of the repercussions inherent in that.

Meanwhile, a high-ranking IDF officer said yesterday that “Arafat has been giving explicit instructions to execute terror attacks and to escalate the situation on the ground.” He made that statement in response to the heightened Kassam rocket and mortar fire in the Gaza Strip ever since Abu Mazen was appointed.

“The man in the mukataa is interested in interfering with the process,” explained the high-ranking officer. “He still controls the sources of power and has been giving explicit instructions to escalate the situation on the ground. The chairman has active channels of control over the General Intelligence service and the National Security service, and he has issued instructions via Fatah bodies, such as the resistance committees and the El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which cooperate with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Arafat gave instructions and funding to his people and they have been passing on the message to escalate.” IDF officials are convinced that this is why the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have refused to accept Abu Mazen’s seniority.

According to data that was presented yesterday by OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Doron Almog, there has been a sharp increase in the number of Palestinian attempts to attack Israeli civilians and soldiers in the Gaza Strip since April 29, the day Abu Mazen was appointed prime minister. Almog said that in the past two and a half weeks the Palestinians have fired 50 mortar shells, 12 Kassam rockets and three rocket propelled grenades. In this same period the Palestinians also detonated a car bomb, threw 25 hand grenades at IDF troops and were involved in 50 “shooting incidents.”

Beit Hanoun Operation

IDF: Arafat Responsible for Kassam Rockets Yedioth Ahronoth (p. 4) by Itzik Saban et al. — “IDF forces will remain in Beit Hanoun for at least a few days in order to stop the launch of Kassam rockets at Sderot,” OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Doron Almog said yesterday.

At the same time, senior officers predicted that the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, during which five Palestinians have been killed so far-would not completely stop the missile fire. Indeed, yesterday evening another missile was launched at Sderot. The missile fell on open ground and caused no damage.

Sixteen projectiles have been fired in Gaza since the beginning of the month, wounding 14 civilians and soldiers. More than 20 Kassam rockets have been fired at Sderot-some six kilometers away from Beit Hanoun-since the beginning of the month, wounding around ten other civilians.

At midnight yesterday Givati Brigade Patrol Battalion troops, along with armored and engineering forces, took over several sites on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun, sites from which missiles were launched. The soldiers demolished the homes of four terrorists and uprooted orchards. The troops were attacked with anti-tank missiles, grenades, and bombs during the operation. Searches revealed three Kassam launchers ready for use and one anti-tank missile. The Palestinians reported five dead (including two youths) and more than 30 wounded.

A senior IDF officer accused Arafat of giving explicit instructions to Hamas to continue firing missiles at Israel in order to “disrupt” the attempt to bring about calm in wake of Abu Mazen’s appointment: “As a result of Arafat’s instructions, Abu Mazen’s government is not getting stronger. Mohammed Dahlan, who is in charge of the Palestinian security services, is not doing anything to stop terrorism.”

Arafat adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh condemned the IDF operation, saying that it was an escalation designed to destroy the road map and to prove that Israel has no intention of achieving calm.

These articles ran on Friday, May 16th