“The agreement according to which Israel will stop chasing dozens of wanted Fatah gunmen in the West Bank if they agree to disarm is on the brink of collapse,” a senior Palestinian security source told Ynet on Thursday.
According to him, talks between representatives for both sides have run into difficulties due to Israel’s insistence not to expand the list of gunmen eligible for amnesty under the deal.
As published by Ynet in mid-July, Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed on the granting of amnesty to 178 wanted activists affiliated with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's military wing in the West Bank.
According to the deal, the pardoned Fatah members will be permitted to join the Palestinian security services but will be prohibited from carrying arms.
However, the source said Israel complained to the Palestinians that some of those included on the list have yet to commit to laying down their arms and refrain from conducting any terror activity.
According to the security official, Israel claimed that half of the Fatah members on the list have not handed in their weapons to the Palestinian security forces. He confirmed that some gunmen have in fact refused to disarm.
“The activists said that laying down their arms – even if Israel lives up to its end of the bargain – would leave them exposed to acts of revenge by (Palestinian) collaborators or their families,” the security official said.
According to him, some activists purchased their rifles for tens of thousands of shekels and are now demanding full compensation.
“I hope that in the next few days we will solve the problems and collect all of the weapons so that we may discuss (with Israel) the transfer of West Bank towns to our control,” the official told Ynet, adding that the PA plans to allocate additional funds toward reimbursing activists who return their weapons.
Meanwhile, a senior al-Aqsa member not included in the amnesty deal told Ynet that if the list of pardoned gunmen would not be expanded, his men would not see themselves obligated to maintain the calm.