|Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press Palestinian militants from the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a group linked to the Fatah Movement, talk in the Old City of the West Bank city of Nablus yesterday. Scores of Fatah militants in the West Bank have signed a pledge renouncing attacks against Israel in return for an Israeli promise to stop pursuing them, a Palestinian security official said yesterday.|
Jerusalem – Israel has decided to end efforts to capture Fatah terrorists in Judea and Samaria.
Israeli sources said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has decided to grant amnesty to 180 members of Fatah’s military wing, nominally led by Palestinian Authority (PA)?Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The Fatah fighters have been cited as responsible for attacks on Israeli civilian and military targets in the West Bank over the last five years.
“It is a confidence-building measure for [Abbas],” an Israeli government source said. “They first have to lay down their arms and promise to end violence.”
Their removal from the “wanted” list requires each man to cease all terrorist activity against Israel and to hand over his arms to Palestinian security services. In exchange, Israel has promised to stop pursuing them.
High-ranking Israeli security officials are not optimistic that the Palestinian side will keep its part of the agreement, because the PA is responsible for ensuring compliance.
Each wanted man is supposed to hand over his arms to Palestinian security services, and they are supposed to track him and deal with him if he violates the agreement. Israeli officials do not believe that this will happen, but it will not be particularly difficult to expose that. Israel’s General Security Services will continue to keep the men under surveillance even after they are no longer officially “wanted.”
Hawatmeh Allowed Back
“I invite Naif Hawatmeh to the memorial ceremony for those who were murdered in the terror attack at Maalot. Let him come, look the families in the eye and see the flowing tears. And then he should be kicked out of here.”
That was how Sasi Cohen – whose uncle, wife and four-year-old son were killed in a terror attack in 1974 – responded to the news that Naif Hawatmeh, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, will be allowed by the Israeli government to return to Judea and Samaria.
Hawatmeh was responsible for a long series of terror attacks during the 1970s.
Haim Asulin, who was permanently crippled by the wounds he suffered in Maalot, says that the news made him shudder. “This man was responsible for the murder of my friends in Maalot and my own severe injury. Until today, I cannot even speak his name. Every day the arm I lost and the scars on my body remind me how I was wounded and how I saw my friends die before my eyes. A thing like that can’t be forgiven and definitely not forgotten. I intend to organize, together with my friends in Maalot, and demonstrate against this.”
Kadoumi Also Allowed To Return
Farouk Kaddoumi, Fatah secretary and the head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s political wing, is considered one of the harshest opponents of the the Oslo agreements and its ensuing results. He was apparently not expecting Israeli approval to return to Palestine, given statements he made last Thursday to the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi:
“The Fatah movement must return to armed struggle and resistance as the main means in its activity and battle. It was a big mistake to give up armed struggle. This concession is responsible for the deterioration of the internal situation that we have seen.”
However, Israel’s prime minister confirmed that Israel would welcome Kaddoumi’s entry into Palestine.
“The only visit that Naif Hawatmeh should be permitted is to be led in handcuffs to a just trial,” said Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee member Tzahi Hanegbi. The minister for strategic matters, Avigdor Lieberman, also believes that Hawatmeh should be allowed to enter the West Bank but only in order to be arrested and imprisoned.
Israel, India OK Missile Defense Project
The Middle East Newsline has confirmed that India and Israel have agreed to the joint development of an air and missile defense system.
Indian sources said New Delhi has agreed to pay $2.5 billion to develop an air and missile defense umbrella in a project with Israel. The sources said the project envisioned a network of batteries that could intercept incoming missiles, aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.
“India will jointly develop and co-produce a new generation of medium range surface-to-air missiles with Israel to secure the country’s strategic assets from growing threats posed by aerial attacks and the proliferation of missiles in the region,” the New Delhi-based Indian Government News reported.
The system would be capable of detecting missile launches up to 500 kilometers away. The defense umbrella would fire interceptors that could down enemy air assets at a range of 70 kilometers.
The agreement called for a joint venture to develop interceptors. On July 12, the Indian Cabinet Security Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the project.
The project would be led by the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, Indian Air Force and Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation, which has been deemed the prime contractor of the missile defense.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007