U.S. Report Refutes Israeli Terror Claims

After weeks of equivocation, the U.S. government
has quietly released to Congress a report refuting
the Israeli claim that Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat was directly implicated in the funding and
planning of attacks against Israeli civilians.
The State Department’s finding directly
contradicts Israel’s claims about documents it
says it seized last month in its military
incursions into the West Bank.

2002.05.15

After weeks of equivocation, the U.S. government
has quietly released to Congress a report refuting
the Israeli claim that Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat was directly implicated in the funding and
planning of attacks against Israeli civilians.


But State Department officials Wednesday told
United Press International that U.S. agencies were
analyzing documents Israel says proves Arafat’s
complicity. "If the documents provide us with
something we would revise the report," a State
Department official said.


The report, published Tuesday, on the compliance with
commitments made by the Palestin Liberation
Organization as part of the now moribund Oslo
Peace Process, says "there is no conclusive
evidence that senior leaderships of the
(Palestinian Authority) or PLO were involved in
planning or approving specific acts of violence."


Required under the 1989 PLO Commitments and
Compliance Act, the report is released twice a
year to Congress. The latest findings cover the
period from June 16, 2001 to Dec. 15, 2001.

No similar legislation exists with regard to Israel.


The report goes on to say that there is some
evidence that lower level Palestinian Authority
officials "fomented violence at some points, while
working to bring it under control at others."


The State Department’s finding directly
contradicts Israel’s claims about documents it
says it seized last month in its military
incursions into the West Bank.


Those documents, posted on the Israel Defense Force’s
website and released to the media, bear what the
IDF says is Yasser Arafat’s handwriting on two
separate funding requests for individuals
associated with the Tanzim, the militia wing of
Arafat’s Fatah party. The Tanzim have claimed
responsibility for shooting attacks on the Israeli
town of Giloh as well as ambushes of Israeli civilian and
military busses.

Indeed, last month the IDF personally captured Fatah
General Secretary Marwan Barghouti on charges that he
commanded the Tanzim to carry out attacks and
assist other terror groups.


Palestinian officials have disputed the authenticity of the
documents.


The State Department report says,
"While there is no conclusive evidence that the
senior PA or PLO leadership approved or had
advanced knowledge of planned attacks, the weight
of evidence would indicate that they knew of
al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Tanzim and elements of
Force 17 involvement in the violence and did
little to rein them in." The report goes on to say
that there is no evidence that these elements were
disciplined either.


Testifying in closed
session before the House International Relations
Committee Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State
William Burns was peppered with questions from
lawmakers for his opinion of the Israeli
documents, according to two House staffers.


Arafat’s alleged complicity in attacks on Israeli
civilians is one of the reasons why Israel has
said it will no longer negotiate with him. Both
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President
Bush have said that the Palestinian Authority
needs to be reformed as part of any progress
towards a peace deal. Arafat promised such reform
Wednesday.

Author: Eli J. Lake

News Service: United Press International

URL: http://interestalert.com/brand/siteia.shtml?Story=st/sn/05150000aaa01819.upi&Sys=mckhan&Fid=PALESTIN&Type=News&Src=nlt&Filter=Palestine