Israel Turns Blind Eye to 500 Fugitive Palestinian Terrorists` Private Arsenals

Attended by a flock of legal advisers, senior Shin Bet security service officers have been engaged in talks with a prominent member of the Fatah young guard in Gaza, Abdel Fatah Hamail, on rules regulating weapons licenses for 500 Palestinian terrorist fugitives. These fugitives, including some of Yasser Arafat’s most notorious terrorist masterminds, have already won an Israeli pledge to stop pursuing them, a reprieve made to further peace efforts. Now, on behalf of Palestinian chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and interior minister Nasser Yousef, Hamail working with Israeli security officials has drawn up a set of new Palestinian Authority criteria governing their “right” to stay armed.
debkafile‘s counter-terror sources stress that this under-the-counter deal flies blatantly in the face of the US-backed Middle East roadmap to peace and reiterated demands by President George W. Bush, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz, that the Palestinian Authority disarm terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.
Yet Israeli officials and Hamail have just hammered out a 10-point pledge for Nasser to present to the terrorists for their signature:
debkafile‘s informants saw the document and reveal it here for the first time:
1. I, the undersigned, pledge to respect the Palestinian Weapons Law of 1998 and its annexes.
(debkafile: Palestinian terrorists never bothered with the law for seven years and have no intention of honoring it now.)
2. I promise to be bound by all parts of the accords signed between the Palestinian Authority and international governments or organizations.
(debkafile: “Israel” is conspicuously omitted here. Palestinian suicide bombers and their controllers are hardly up to speed on international accords that even many Palestinian Authority officials have never heard of.)
3. Weapons and ammunition may not be transferred to second parties.
4. The bearer of the licensed weapon undertakes to renew his license on the date stipulated.
(debkafile: No licenses were ever issued to the terrorists.)
5. The bearer of the gun license undertakes to possess no more than one weapon.
(debkafile: The document does not stipulate who is to enforce this restriction. A terrorist could have 10 concealed weapons and no one would be wiser.)
6. Guns may not be carried in public places, at rallies or at celebrations.
(debkafile: There is no bar to using weapons in terrorist attacks; nor do Israeli civilians or soldiers rate mention as banned targets.)
7. Weapons and ammunition must be insured against loss, damage and fire. It is forbidden to sell them.
8. The serial numbers of weapons may not be altered.
(debkafile: Israel issued side-arms to Palestinian “security officers” under the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords. Their serial numbers have been changed long since by those officers in their capacity as terrorists. Palestinian-fabricated guns are not imprinted with serial numbers.)
9. The bearer of a licensed weapon promises to defer to the authority of the Palestinian interior minister.
(debkafile: This clause is a general one referring to all orders handed down by the minister.)
10. Offenders against the above provisions will be subject to criminal or civil charges.
Israeli and Palestinian officials assumed that the fugitive terrorist chiefs would sign this very lax document with alacrity. After all, it contains no real limitations on the use of their weapons or their targets. They could not have been more wrong.
Yousef approved the document Monday, March 21 and asked the fugitives to come in and sign it. His was bowled over when they refused in the bluntest terms, according to debkafile‘s counter-terrorism and Palestinian sources.
“Do they (Palestinian authorities) think we’re idiots,” one fugitive fumed, pointing to clause 9 on obeying the Palestinian interior minister’s every order. “Once we sign this paper, Yousef will immediately order us to hand in our weapons. We are not signing, and that’s final.”
The upshot of the exercise: Palestinian Authority weapons licenses have been dumped on a mounting stack of accords and commitments – from the Oslo accords to the recent understandings for the transfer of West Bank cities to Palestinian security responsibility – that are not worth the paper they’re printed on. Top-flight terrorist chiefs not only remain at large but are allowed to be heavily armed.

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