Secret memos: Livni chides Fatah over suicide attack
Minutes of meeting held in early 2008 between former FM and Palestinian negotiators Erekat, Qureia reveal Israel's discontent following deadly attack carried out by Al-Aqsa Brigades in Dimona. Sides also joked. 'Instead of saying go to hell, Israelis say go to Gaza,' Livni told them
According to a leaked secret document published by the Guardian, former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Palestinian negotiators, "Did you hear about the suicide attack? Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, affiliated with Fatah, declared responsibility for the attack. I am talking with representatives of a movement that has claimed responsibility for the attack. What steps will you take?"
According to protocols of a meeting held in Jerusalem on February 4, 2008 during peace talks between Ehud Olmert's government and the Palestinian Authority, Ahmed Qureia replied, "Do you want to show your anger? We're angry too."
The sides were referring to a suicide attack in Dimona, which claimed the life of an Israeli woman.
Saeb Erekat also responded to Livni's criticism. "I wouldn't say Fatah or Hamas (carried out the attack) until things are clear," the Palestinian negotiator said.
Qureia, a former Palestinian prime minister, added, "The main issue here is that the perpetrators acted against the peace process; whether they're Fatah or Hamas isn't important."
But Livni would not back down. "What's Fatah doing with regard to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades?" She asked.
Erekat replied: "They have been contained after they pledged to hand over all their arms to the Palestinian security apparatuses and refrain from carrying out military action…You have to be patient until it becomes clear who the perpetrators are. Hamas uses Fatah's name."
He added that a number of organizations, including the Popular Front, operate under the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades name.
Livni (L), with Qureia (R) and Erekat beside him (Archive photo: Reuters)
Livni asked, "Is it possible to issue a communiqué that Fatah is opposed to Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and condemn their actions?"
Qureia replied: "Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades is part of the Fatah movement and they agreed to be part of the current security apparatus, even though this was not my position when I was prime minister. I wanted the Brigade to remain as it was to confront Hamas. Some are funded by Hamas, Hezbollah, and others."
Scene of attack in Dimona (Archive photo: AFP)
Asked by Livni if the Brigades "have a leadership," Erekat said, "Whoever pays is their leader."
The former Israeli foreign minister reiterated her demand that the Palestinians condemn the attack in Dimona, saying, "My question is what if another (Baruch) Goldstein killed Palestinians, God forbid…I'd have gone out and said that Kadima is against the perpetrator of the attack.
Kadima was the ruling party at the time. It is currently in the opposition and is headed by Livni.
In response to Livni's demand, Erekat described the disorganization within the Al-Aqsa Brigades, saying the organization was "divided."
At this point Livni raised the Gaza issue, and Qureia urged Israel to retake control over the Philadelphi Route along the Egypt-Gaza border. "Hamas must not feel that it’s achieving daily victories, sometimes with Israel and sometimes with Egypt, and the Al-Jazeera channel praises these victories. I hope Hamas will be defeated," he said.
During the meeting Qureia quoted slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who said, "I hope to sleep and wake up and see that the sea has swallowed Gaza."
Livni said, "We have a saying too. When you want to curse somebody you tell him 'go to hell,' but we shorten it and say 'go to Gaza.'"
Later in the meeting, Livni asked the Palestinian negotiators about the peace summit Russia was trying to organize in early 2008. "Do we really need such a conference?" she asked.
Qureia replied, "It may be good to bring Syria in."
"Do you want us to talk with Syria? We've always believed that you don't prefer our (negotiations) to have two tracks," the former Israeli FM said, "I'll talk to (then-US Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice about multilateral talks."
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