Abu Sneineh was a member of a Fatah cell that in May 1980 murdered six yeshiva students who were on their way to Beit Hadassah in the heart of the Jewish settlement in Hebron. Zvi Glatt, Eli Ze'ev, Shmuel Marmelstein, Hanan Kroythamer, Gershon Klein and Yaakov Zimmerman were murdered in the shooting.
The four members of the Palestinian cell were sentenced to prison in connection with the attack. However, all four, including Abu Sneineh, were later released in a prisoner exchange deal.
Abu Sneineh will now head the largest Palestinian city in the Palestinian Authority.
As part of their duties, Palestinian mayors in the West Bank meet and cooperate with different Israeli officials from the Civil Administration in order to tend to civil issues and problems with infrastructure.
However, when it comes to a man who was convicted of murdering Israelis, the issue of cooperation is not a given for either side.
Nevertheless, in his first statements, Abu Sneineh attempted to sound professional and to downplay any political undertones. "I do not rule out relations with Israeli authorities so that we can provide the best service to the residents of Hebron," he told Ynet. "Because of its division, this is a city where you cannot provide services to residents without coordination with the authorities that represent Israel here in the region."
In the past, Israel has refused to cooperate with mayors affiliated with Hamas. When asked about this possibility, Abu Sneineh responded, "We insist on providing services and cooperating with all parties that have a role in providing these services. We are part of the Palestinian Authority and there are agreements which Israel is obligated to honor. These are civilian activities and have nothing to do with political or military activity."
As for his past and the criticism voiced in Israel as a result of his election, Abu Sneina says that the circumstances have changed.
"After 1994 (the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority), things changed completely. It is nothing to do with the past. There us a desire to build and invest is only important things."
However, Abu Sneineh evaded answering directly whether he regretted what he had done in the past. "All of us in Fatah fought for our national rights, and international law allows us to resist the occupation by all means," he insisted.
(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)