Same Policy Same Results
The Prime Minister today told Arafat - in a media oriented demonstration of supposed strength - after scores of innocents were killed and wounded - that he must bring a connection between what he says and what he does. Look who is talking.
In the past months there were several failed attempted attacks. Some were thwarted, some discovered in time, but the Israeli government was not alarmed by the attacks which almost occurred.
Since Arafat signed the Oslo Agreement in September '95, he has violated its every section: He incites to terror, helps Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue their attacks (as long as they take place outside the territory of the Palestinian Authority) and at the very same time with unbelievable gall blames the GSS [General Security Service] and IDF [Israel Defense Forces] with carrying out the attacks against Israel.
The Labor leadership did not have the will to admit their historic mistake. Instead of this they covered for the PLO, in the baseless hope that this will cause it to change.
Peres even changed the failure to an ideology: "The trick is not to denigrate the PLO", he tended to claim (as if insisting on our survival was a denigration of the PLO), "the trick is to make them a partner."
Peres didn't change Arafat into a partner, but the government lost as a result of the February-March '96 attacks.
The Likud promised a total revision of this policy, but followed exactly the same path. Netanyahu covered for the PLO in every possible way. He even forbade his aides from publicizing the violations of the agreement by the PLO for many months. He talked about "reciprocity" and did the opposite. He signed the Hebron Agreement without the Palestinian Charter being amended, without Arafat stopping the incitement to jihad and without the extradition of a single terrorist murderer.
It is not only that the PLO didn't take measures agaisnt the Hamas and Islamic Jihad, he released 120 of the most dangerous terrorists and didn't honor Israeli and American requests that he arrest them again. And the Israeli government remained silent.
When PLO soldiers murdered 16 IDF soldiers in September '96 Netanyahu and Mordechai forgave the blood of their soldiers and the PM called Arafat in Washington his "friend and partner." The entire security system knows that the Palestinian Authority smuggles automatic weapons, but the government remains silent.
Information about the "laboratory" in Beit Sahour, where armed bombs were discovered, was given to the PLO months ago, but they didn't do anything. And the government remained silent. And recently, only days ago, it became clear that the commander of the Palestinian Police, an Arafat loyalist, personally prepared a murder squad of Palestinian police, with a stolen car and weapons. They carried out one attack and were caught on the second. But the Israeli government protested with a weak voice and went silent. And while PLO officials deny responsibility and the charges, our Foreign Minister promises that the PLO will "conclude the investigation."
The Prime Minister, instead of taking actions against the PLO, took pride only yesterday that he, unlike the Labor government, succeeded in stopping the terror. But he who calls Arafat a partner also when he acts as an enemy, has coming to him what happened to the Labor government. The same policy yields the same results.
Yigal Carmon served as the advisor on counterterrorism
in the office of the Israel Prime Minister, 1988-1993
This article orginally appeared in the
Israeli daily newspaper, Yediot Aharonot,
on July 31, 1997 and was translated by Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director of IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
This article orginally appeared in the Israeli daily newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, on July 31, 1997 and was translated by Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director of IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
Yasser Arafat and Hamas: the Cooperation Has Deepened
Less than two weeks ago, the Prime Minister's Bureau -- through the Government Press Office -- issued a booklet entitled: "Six Months Since The Signing -- Israeli and Palestinian Compliance With The Hebron Accord: A Comprehensive Assessment."
Over 31 pages, the prime minister's Information Dept., headed by David Bar-Illan, detailed a litany of the most severe actions which the Palestinian Authority -- in its words -- has undertaken. "The PA has violated most of the fundamental security provisions of the agreement," the Prime Minister's Bureau determined, oganizing riots in Hebron, enlisting four times as many police officers than is allowed by the Agreement, paying those who attack Israeli soldiers, etc.
The report specially stressed the Palestinian Authority's, "avoidance of a war on terrorism:" by active incitement, avoiing struggling against the terrorist organizations, and cooperating with senior Hams and Jihad officials. To lend credence to these claims, the report pointed to the failur to try terrorists and the release from prison of senor Islamic Jihad officials -- such as Muhammad Hawaja and Nabil Sharihi, who took pat in the Beit Lid (January 1995) and Kfar Darom ( April 1995) attacks. It also pointed to the fact that today, more than 150 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members are serving in the ranks of the Palestinian security services. Several days before the Israeli report was issued, senior officials in Jibril Rajoub's organization distributed a pamphlet in Jerusalem. The pamphlet was from Fatah, Arafat's organization, and it called for, "the revival of the intifada in Jerusalem," attacks on mobile Israeli targets, and for, "a fire to be lit under the feet of the Zionist occupiers." This pamphlet was not mentioned at all in the list of severe violations published by Israel.
The contacts and the secret agreements between the top Hamas leadership, Jihad and the Palestinian Authority, are not a new phenomenon. They were formulated during Mr. Peres' and the late Mr. Rabin's tenures as prime minister. However, this cooperation became especially close in the past year. Channels of dialogue and cooperation were opened between the Authority and these organizations. Thus, for example, an important channel was created between Abdallah Abu Samhadaneh, the governor of Khan Younis, and Hamas' Sheikh Bahker, through the direct involvement of Yasser Arafat. Through this channel and others, it as promised to Hamas and Jihad personnel that their people would be released, and it was made clear to them what had also been emphasized before the attacks in February and March of last year: you can operate against Israel -- but not from Palestinian Authority territory, and not in a way which leads directly to it.
The cooperation was not exhausted thereby. The security establishment knows about dozens of Hamas activists who have been enlisted in Jibril Rajoub's organization in the first half of the year. It is also known that at least dozens of Fatah activists have begun to act inside Hamas and Islamic Jihad, while being deeply involved in attacks. Senior Palestinian officials claim that Hamas and Jihad are receiving massive aid from many elements from within the Palestinian administration and security services, including giving material and logistical support.
And there is, of course, the case of the gang of police officers and the involvement of senior Authority officials in it. The security establishment -- and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- know very well that Palestinian police commander Razi Jebali did not operate the gang on his own accord, but received an order from Arafat. Various security officials passed such an assessment on to Netanyahu -- but the Prime Minister preferred to cover up this information and try to resume the negotiations with Arafat.
And thus, despite the fact that the government claimed that General Razi Jebali's VIP card had been cancelled, no order was give to the IDF to do this. At the same time, Netanyahu foiled several attempts by people in Washington, such as terrorism Yigal Carmon, to bring about the cessation of American aid to the Palestinian Authority.
In the last half year, Hamas and Jihad personnel have become the darlings of the Palestinian regime. Every deceased member of theirs receives a state funeral, accompanied by an honor guard, and is declared a martyr. The Palestinian leadership has begun to participate more and more in Hamas and Jihad events, and to legitimize the messages expressed at them.
Such was the case three weeks ago at the main square in Nablus, when 20,000 people attended the weddings of 15 couples, sponsored by Hamas. The initiator of the event, and the main speaker, was Sheikh Hamed Bitawi, a member of the top Hamas leadership and, "Chairman of Palestine Council of Sages," an appointment he received from Arafat. Sitting on the stage were Nablus Governor Mahmoud Al-Alloul and Mayor Rassan A-Shak'a. Opposite them, the crowd shouted, "Iz E-Din Al-Kassam," and Bitawi declared: "As the Israeli flag was burned, so Israel shall burn."
Many uniformed Palestinian policemen were seen in the crowd, who shouted anti-Israeli slogans along with everyone. The couples received financing from the Palestinian welfare Ministry, headed by Umm Jihad.
The cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and the extremist Islamic organizations exists in an intentional anti-Israeli atmosphere, crystallized over the last six months by the PA. Only one month ago, the daily incitement being broadcast by the PA's "Voice of Palestine" was revealed. The campaign of anti-Israel libels in the official Palestinian press -- the libido gum, prostitutes with AIDS and the distribution of spoiled food by the GSS -- was mentioned here.
On Wednesday, after the attack, security establishment spokesmen began to reveal the severe letters which they had sent to the top PA leadership in the wake of this campaign of incitement. Only on Wednesday, was it decided -- for the first time -- to jam Radio Palestine's broadcasts. It was then decided to issue an arrest warrant against Razi Jebali and work to halt the American assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
The Bombing at Mahane Yehudah and the Aftermath
My friend David, an American Jew in his mid-twenties, was shopping for fruit at the Mahane Yehuda marketplace in Jerusalem at approximately 1 p.m., July 30. Standing next to a watermelon stand, he realized he forgot his wallet. As he turned to go home, the first bomb exploded, sending watermelon pieces and body parts flying over his head.
Two Arab suicide bombers, each carrying a briefcase containing 10 kilograms of explosives and standing at opposite ends of a crowded alley, killed 15 people and injured 170 in the terrorist bombings.
Thrown to the ground, David immediately jumped up and began hauling the injured from the bloody scene. An hour later, at about the time I showed up at Mahane Yehuda, David returned to his home in virtual shock. He still refuses to discuss the matter. It is just too painful.
Standing on a rooftop overlooking the bloody mess, I took photographs of an ambulance crew removing a body from underneath a vegetable stand. By now, hundreds were assisting the rescue effort, placing the wounded on stretchers and heading for the fleet of ambulances. Fist fights were breaking out everywhere as tense crowds pressed police lines to catch a gory glimpse.
I suddenly got bumped from behind by an Orthodox rabbi. Wearing fluorescent vests, a whole team of rabbis appeared and began filling a clear plastic bag with body parts that had been launched from the street below, collecting them for burial.
Immediately after the bombing, the Middle East News Service contacted Palestinian media sources in Gaza and Jericho. The agency's request was simple: What is Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat saying to his own people about the bombing?
During its 2 p.m. report, the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation, the official PLO radio station, reported an "operation" in Jerusalem. The station continued to report it as such throughout the day. Arafat phoned the Israeli Prime Minister with condolences, regrets and condemnation. In Jericho two hours after the attack, the Arab media asked Arafat for a direct comment in Arabic. The PBC waited for his response. Not a word.
"He said nothing," Prime Minister Netanyahu's director of communications, David Bar Illan told the Middle East News Service on Aug. 3. "Arafat still has not condemned the bombings in Arabic. He hasn't even spoken out against these terrorists. He condones it only in English, only to foreign correspondents and in condolence calls."
Said Bar Illan: "Arafat has yet to do what (Israeli) President Ezer Weisman asked of him - to say to his own people that `the armed struggle is over. We have chosen the path of peace'."
Despite the appeal of Israel Chief Rabbi Meir Lau to the Moslem world to repudiate the violence, no Middle East based Moslem authority has condemned the attack.
In covering the bombings, the Palestinian Arab papers headlined Arafat's condemnation of the Israeli government for declaring "war against the Palestinian people" by sealing the borders and continuing settlement building.
The PA Minister of Information's statement, placing the onus for the attack on Israel, was circulated on Capitol Hill the day after the bombing by Rep. James Saxton (R-N.J.).
"Arafat is not saying much, which is not normal," said Ghassan Khatib, director of the Jerusalem Media Communications Center and a liaison to the PA from Jerusalem. "He is very cautious in speaking, perhaps fearing that he's under attack."
Last week, Arafat went to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Hussein to enlist their stinging condemnations of Israel for the closure.
According to Ghassan, this closure is the strictest ever. Besides blocking the border with Israel proper, Netanyahu has sealed off Palestinian cities and, for the first time, closed the bridges between Jordan and the West Bank. Israel also has denied movement to most Palestinian VIP passport holders and attempted to jam the PBC for alleged incitement to violence. The Knesset, including the left wing Labor and Meretz parties, are not objecting to Netanyahu's response. Labor Party leader Ehud Barak directed a moratorium on his party's criticism of Netanyahu's security actions. Former Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat, head of the pro-Oslo Council of Peace and Security, has sent an ultimatum to Arafat linking the renewal of talks with Arafat's stepped up fight against terrorism.
Gauging the Palestinian official reaction to the attack, the Middle East News Service visited Orient House, the PLO's headquarters in East Jerusalem. Officials there denounced the violence. However, they issued no memo, statement or press release to the Palestinian public. On the contrary, Orient House officials blamed the attack on Israel.
"This is the result of people's frustrations with Israeli government policies," said Adnan Jalani, foreign press coordinator at Orient House.
While Netanyahu has called on Arafat to destroy the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, Jalani claimed that Arafat has done enough to combat terrorism.
"If Arafat recognizes Israel's right to build settlements in the West Bank and also cracks down on whoever opposes these settlements, then Arafat is just becoming another Israeli policemen." Jalani said. "Arafat is not an Israeli policemen."
Although the PA has arrested scores of terrorist suspects, Bar Illan declared that Arafat must move to destroy the terrorist infrastructure. "Nothing has changed. If anything, it's gotten worse," said Bar Illan. After the March 1996 suicide bombings, Bar Illan said, the PA arrested hundreds of suspects, some of whom admitted involvement in terrorist attacks. The PA has released the vast majority, he noted.
Jalani maintained that: "Arafat did not put them in jail for a reason. They were put in jail because Israel wanted them to be put in jail. For how long can he keep them in jail without evidence of them being guilty?" With negotiations frozen, Jalani threatened that: "If there is no progress in the peace process, then similar explosions are going to happen in the future."
At Mahane Yehuda marketplace, the typically robust atmosphere was eerily quiet and introspective the day after the bombings. Tempers flared as merchants cleaned up the debris and makeshift memorials were set up at the murder sights, along with funeral notices.
Israel's defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai surveyed the bomb scene that afternoon, facing a swarm of journalists and angry merchants. "Kill the murderers, kill them all!" roared an Orthodox butcher, whose poultry stand was riddled by the blasts and whose brother was hospitalized.
Mordechai assured the butcher swift justice, but there was no appeasing this man. Moments earlier, a police officer held the butcher back as he shouted down a teenaged girl. The girl was merely photographing the wreckage of a scooter, used by an elderly bomb victim to carry fruits and vegetables, now covered with memorial candles. She ran away crying.
(David Bedein, senior media research analyst at Beit Agron International Press
Center, contributed to this story.)
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