Return to Palestine

Just before leaving for the G-8 conference, British prime minister Tony Blair handed a special report on British intelligence activity on the West Bank to the White House, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Palestinian security services are described as finally starting operations to foil suicide and other terrorist attacks from May.

Cited in the British document, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terror sources have learned, are the exposure and demolition of gigantic explosives stockpiles in Bethlehem, also the capture of two suicides on their way to Israel – one in Nablus and a Bedouin women in the Jerusalem district. Studded with photos, maps and abundant detail on the locations of exposed terrorist cells, the report's British authors complain that Israel does not let Palestinian security officers transfer their detainees to holding facilities in Jericho for questioning. They stress that they are seeing for the first time genuine Palestinian Authority activity to prevent terrorism.

There is no judgment in the report of the efficiency or worth of this Palestinian activity.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources, neither Israeli intelligence nor its military are overly impressed with the British report or its account of purported Palestinian counter-terrorist steps. They infer that the Palestinians are only skimming the surface enough to impress the British – and through them the Americans – that they are finally cracking down on terrorists. However British agents on the West Bank had not penetrated the core terrorist networks when they drew up their report.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources note that there is much talk about Egyptian officers due to arrive on the West Bank to set up an intelligence and special operations training academy in Jericho as well as tension between Mubarak, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Yasser Arafat. None is prepared for the other to seize control of the territory or move in on Palestinian security forces.

Meanwhile, the foreign presence expanding fastest on the West Bank is that of the British secret service MI6, dozens of whose agents have fanned out in the territory.

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