Newsletter : 6fax0329.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
March 29, 1996 V4, #58
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Hebron Withdrawal Does Not Take Place
By Al Pessin (VOA-Hebron)
Israel did not withdraw from the West Bank city of Hebron Thursday,
as required by its agreement with the Palestinians. Israel cites
security reasons, but Palestinian officials says the decision was
Hebron residents were supposed to finally experience the elation of
seeing the nearly 29-year Israeli occupation end Thursday -- an
experience people in other West Bank cities had late last year.
The Israeli withdrawal was to be only partial anyway, leaving some
troops in the city to protect about 450 Israeli settlers who live
there. And it was left until now, rather than being done with the
others last year, so Israel could make additional preparations and
also see the performance of the Palestinian police in the other
towns. In addition, Hebron is particularly sensitive because it is
home to many Palestinian and Israeli militants.
Now, because of the recent series of bombings and the resulting
security clampdown, the Hebron redeployment has been further
postponed, and the city's Palestinian mayor, Mustafa Natshe, says
the decision has added new disappointment and frustration.
Natshe refers to the early Israeli elections May 29. He says
Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres is walking a thin political
line between guaranteeing the security Israeli voters demand, and
being true to the vision of peace he has promised them.
But Israeli officials say security, not politics, is the main
concern. Israel and the Palestinian police have been carrying
out a crackdown against militant groups since the series of
bombings in late February and early March, and they say the delay
in the Hebron withdrawal is part of it.
In addition, Israeli officials have hinted that the withdrawal
could proceed around mid-April, well in advance of the elections,
if the Palestinian police demonstrate they are willing and able
to continue and intensify the crackdown on violent groups in the
areas they control.
Yigal Palmor is a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry. "There
will be a redeployment from Hebron, as agreed, although not on the
date that was agreed. But there will be a redeployment. Now,
you're saying that it is not precisely according to the
agreement, but the agreement did not take into account this wave
of suicide attacks with 60 casualties in one week. Now, that's an
emergency situation. That's not something which you can simply
overlook and go on with the plans as if nothing happened."
Palmor says Israel is committed to fulfilling its agreement with
the Palestinians. But he says the militant groups threaten the
entire peace process, and that now the priority must be to end
their ability to operate.
Assassination Panel Blames Security Flaws
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
The Israeli state commission investigating the assassination of
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has sharply criticized the country's
Security Service for what it calls operational and management
flaws. The commission's final report criticizes several officials by
name, saying they failed to act on intelligence about threats to
the prime minister from Jewish extremists, and therefore put him at
The commission says the Israeli Security Services had "abundant
information" about increased threats to the prime minister and
other officials from Jewish groups, but failed to act on it. The
commission says the old protection routine was "unreasonable and
exposed the prime minister to serious risks."
The commission says the resignation of the head of the service
was justified as were the re-assignments of several others. The
commission also criticizes the level of cooperation between the
Security Service, which is responsible for protecting senior
officials, and the Israeli police, who implement the security
plans the service develops.
That was the situation at the peace rally in Tel Aviv last Nov. 4,
where Rabin was assassinated. The convicted assassin, Yigal Amir,
penetrated a secure area without being stopped by police or
Security Service agents.
The commission also says the intelligence branch of the Security
Service was too reluctant to distribute its information to the
relevant operational units, and that those units did a poor job
of using what information was provided to alert agents responsible
for protecting senior leaders.
The commission also rejects the many conspiracy theories related
to the killing. Such ideas have been presented by various groups
and individuals, including Amir, who was convicted of the murder
on Wednesday. He was sentenced to life in prison, but his lawyer
says he will appeal, possibly based partly on a conspiracy theory.
The state commission's mandate did not empower it to look into
the societal factors which created the tense domestic atmosphere
in which a Jewish student murdered the prime minister because of
political views based on what many rabbis call a twisted view of
Judaism. But the commission members recommend some national "soul
searching" in that regard.
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