By Morton A. Klein, Zionist Organization of America, October 23, 2007.
Three Fatah operatives involved in a plot to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert during a trip to Jericho to meet with Palestinian Authority (PA)
president Mahmoud Abbas on August 6 and subsequently arrested by the PA
after receiving information from Israel’s Shin Bet (Security Agency), have been
found to have been released by the PA.
Two of the three were seen back at a Jericho security checkpoint in the
ranks of Fatah, the party ruling the PA headed and co-founded with Yasser
Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. The head of Israel’s Shin Bet (Internal Security
Service), Yuval Diskin, informed the cabinet of the August 6 assassination
attempt this week.
A total of five Fatah operatives suspected of plotting to assassinate Olmert
were members of the PA security forces and were assigned to guard the prime
Israel arrested the two other men involved but transferred them to PA
custody. All five confessed to their involvement in the plot. Following the
discovery of the two released men near Jericho, Israel informed top PA
negotiator Ahmed Qurei of the discovery, who assured Israel that all the
suspects were still in custody.
However, on Friday, upon further examination, it became clear that they
had indeed been released by PA officials. PA prime minister Salaam Fayyad said
that the five Fatah operatives were rearrested last week and are currently being
held in custody, that the original release had been an error and that the mistake
would not reoccur.
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter also said that Olmert’s life had not been in
real danger since the operatives planned to use light ammunition which would
not have been able to pierce the prime minister’s car but that “This was no
reason to release the suspects,” while Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor
Lieberman said that the peace process must be frozen until all details about the
plot are clarified.
National Union National Religious Party chairman Zevulun Orlev called for
Israel to re-arrest all the Fatah operatives released by the PA security forces. He
added that Olmert should cut off all contact with Abbas, who, Orlev said,
“protects terrorists,” and boycott the Annapolis conference, a call echoed by
MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud). However, Olmert, while describing the PA’s conduct
as a “source of discomfort,” insisted that Israel would participate in the
US-sponsored Middle East parley (Jerusalem Post, October 21).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is hard to imagine clearer
evidence of the PA’s unfitness for negotiations as a peace partner. Not only has
the PA not fulfilled any of its 14 year old commitments to jail terrorists and end
the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques,
schools and youth camps that feed terror, but its own Fatah personnel plot to
assassinate the Israeli prime minister.
Worse, it releases the men and puts them back on active duty. This is
clearly not a government that has the slightest interest in fighting terror and in
honoring agreements. We can see that nothing has changed since the days
when Arafat, as PA president, operated a revolving door in which some
terrorists occasionally were arrested, only to be quietly released a short time
later or else were put up in top hotels during the day and allowed home at
We also know – and the ZOA has publicized this before – that Abbas himself has
been sheltering wanted, known terrorists inside his presidential compound in
Ramallah, just as Yasser Arafat did before him.
It is clear that Abbas is simply Yasser Arafat in a suit, that Fatah and the
PA remains the terror-sponsoring and protecting organizations they have always
been and that no genuine peace agreement can be concluded with such
Palestinian Arab leadership.
The PA’s goal remains Israel’s destruction by use of terrorism, as clearly
laid out to this day in Fatah’s Constitution.”