Livnat: Jeopardizing Israelis
Photo: Yoav Gilai
Tibi: Not a pardon
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Livnat: Pardoning gunmen jeopardizes security

Right-wing MKs attack reported agreement to pardon hundreds of Fatah wanted men, fear they will continue to engage in terrorism

A Palestinian security official told Ynet on Friday that Israel will stop chasing dozens of wanted Fatah gunmen in the West Bank under an agreement aimed at bolstering Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


Right-wing MKs were infuriated by the Palestinian reports. "The government must immediately halt this dangerous plan that jeopardizes Israel's citizens' safety," said MK Limor Livnat (Likud) Saturday evening in response to the deal.


"It is astonishing to see how the Olmert government buckles under the terrorist organizations time and time again," she added. "It is not surprising that (Defense Minister) Ehud Barak, who fled Lebanon, is now pardoning Zakariya Zubeidi."


MK Yisrael Katz (Likud) warned: "Regretfully, instead of eradicating terrorism, the government is not only releasing terrorists from jail, but is adding insult to injury by giving immunity to murderers such as Zakariya Zubeidi and his friends. Olmert and his cronies have not learned yet that giving in to terrorism, not only does not stop it, but increases it.


"I have no doubt," he added, "that those who will receive the immunity will spend the time they save by not having to dodge IDF forces for terrorist preparations. Now, they will engage in terrorism with no-one bothering them."


However, MKs from the left applauded the decision: "Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) must be given the possibility to lead moves for change that will end in disarming the militias and replacing the central rule," MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) explained his position. "If our contribution to the process is pardoning these wanted men, it is worth it, and I approve the step."


MK Ahmad Tibi from the United Arab List objected to the terminology used: "This is not a pardon, but a Palestinian effort to stop the targeted killings. It should not be presented as a gesture. It should be backed up by releasing prisoners from all of the factions."


The Labor is also endorsing the deal. MK Danny Yatom said: "I side with an agreement that all the wanted gunmen will put down their arms and commit themselves to not act against Israel in any terrorist activity, will not carry arms and will accept the Palestinian security services' authority.


"It goes without saying that if any of them continue to engage in terrorism we will renew the hunt," he added.


Israel is still analyzing deal

Despite the Palestinian's optimistic reports of lists of hundreds of prisoners who have already been approved, the issue is still under examination by the government and has yet to be approved.


The topic was raised several times at meetings between Israeli taskforces and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' men since Abbas and Prime Minister started to meet regularly.


At the Sharm el-Sheik summit about three weeks ago, Jerusalem agreed to look into absolving Fatah members on Israel's 'most wanted' list.


Abbas' goal is to recruit these men to strengthen his regime. This regime would support the understandings with the international community: renouncing terrorism, recognizing Israel and accepting agreements signed between the PLO and the Israeli government after the Oslo Accord was signed.


Israel has not yet given its final approval to the agreement. The main concern is that part of these wanted men are responsible for terrorist attacks against IDF forces, settlers in the West Bank and also civilians within the Green Line.


The step would leave them immune while by law, they should be put on trial and sentenced to prison. Moreover, there is no guarantee that these men will not encourage terrorist activities after being exonerated.


Ronny Sofer contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 07.14.07, 19:19
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