OC Intelligence: Arafat could do more

By BATSHEVA TSUR and DAVID RUDGE

JERUSALEM (September 24) - Palestinian Authority head Yasser Arafat is not intervening to stop Fatah contingency plans for possible future violence against Israelis, the head of Military Intelligence, OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon said yesterday.

Ya'alon also charged before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the PA has released about 40 of the 100 terror suspects arrested before US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit.

He said the freed detainees weren't questioned.

Ya'alon alleged that these were further indications that the PA was not making a serious effort to uproot terrorist infrastructure.

Arafat is taking certain steps "to earn good points" with the Americans, Ya'alon said. "But this is not a no-holds-barred war against the terrorist infrastructure."

Ya'alon noted that while the infrastructure for suicide bombers came from Area A, which is fully under Palestinian control, the suicide bombers themselves, for the most part, were from Area B where Israel controls security.

Using Area B as a recruitment base made it possible for Hamas to act "without embarrassing the PA," Ya'alon said.

"The infrastructure is in Area A, but they recruit the suicide bombers from B. It is not clear from which area the terrorists leave [on their mission]," he said.

Ya'alon added that the Palestinians have given Israel all the details about the suicide bombers, and that therefore it wasn't clear why Arafat had insisted they came from abroad.

Nevertheless, intelligence assessments were that Arafat has no interest in fomenting unrest, and that this is the main reason why there were no serious riots over the entry of Jewish families to Ras al-Amud last week.

"Arafat is definitely in control. He can light or extinguish the flames whenever he wants. There are no spontaneous, popular outbursts," Ya'alon reportedly said.

Arafat, meanwhile, said this week that the PA is doing everything in its power to fight terrorism and those behind it in the areas under its control.

He stressed, however, that there was no such thing as 100 per cent success in the fight against terror, as Israel itself had discovered.

Arafat made the comments to Democratic Arab Party MKs Abdul Wahab Darawshe and Taleb a-Sanaa when they met him at his headquarters in Gaza on Monday night.

Darawshe said Arafat was unaware at the time of any evidence linking residents of areas under the PA's control or in the West Bank generally with the two recent suicide bombings in Jerusalem.

"In our conversation we did not know about the intention to publicize details (about the identity of the bombers)," said Darawshe.

"He said that the Palestinian Authority was united in this and was doing its utmost to prevent all acts of terrorism against Israel because he is convinced that terrorism first and foremost is hurting the interests of the Palestinian people.

"But there is no 100 per cent success. Israel has not had such a success rate, nor have other countries like Britain and even America in their fight against terrorism." Darawshe said Arafat had called for an end to the closure which he said was a form of collective punishment which was harming the Palestinian economy and innocent people whose only aim was to support themselves and their families.

"He stressed that the closure was playing into the hands of the enemies of peace and was designed to weaken his position and that of the PA," said Darawshe.

© Jerusalem Post


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