Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Kislev 5764 - November 26, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Security Fence So Far A Big Success
by M Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

ISA Director Avi Dichter briefed ministers at the weekly Cabinet meeting last Sunday, and said that the part of the Security Fence built so far has been an unqualified success. Dichter said he does not know of another meter of fence in Israel that has been as worthwhile as the 107 kilometers of the security fence that have been constructed so far in the northern part of the border with Palestinian areas. This fence, Dichter said, has already paid for itself "with compound interest."

Dichter cited the terrorist who dispatched the suicide bomber who blew up the Maxim restaurant in Haifa six weeks ago. He told his interrogators that because of the fence, it is much more difficult to penetrate into Israel, and as a result the terrorists have moved their targets southward where it is easier to get across the Green Line. Much more of the activity is know concentrated south of Kfar Kassem, or from Nablus in the direction of Jerusalem, he said.

In response to an interview given by four former Shin Bet heads who said that Israel has not given enough to recent Palestinian administrations, Dichter told the cabinet that he does not feel that Israel is at fault for the downfall of current PA prime minister Qurei's predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas. The former Shin Bet directors intimated that Israel should have been much more forthcoming in the gestures it offered to Abbas.

Dichter said that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat has regained 100 percent control over the Palestinian security services. Likewise, Dichter said that of the PA's $93 million monthly budget, Arafat's personal office receives some $8 million. By comparison, only a total of $6 million a month goes to the PA's health system. This disproportion, Dichter said, "cries out to the heavens."

Some 300 people are employed by Arafat's office, and the rest of the funds goes to Fatah in the territories to ensure Arafat's control.

ISA Director Dichter also briefed ministers on matters connected to terrorist organizations and to their continued efforts to perpetrate terror attacks. He said that the quiet that has prevailed is deceptive since there were 14 unsuccessful suicide bombing attempts in recent weeks and the number of terror alerts increased recently from 30 to 50 per day. Two of the failed bombers blew themselves up without any damage to others but Israeli security forces foiled the rest, be'ezer Hashem.

Dichter compared the situation to a water polo match. When seen from above it all looks elegant, but underneath the water there is a great deal of kicking and thrashing.

According to Dichter, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are interested in reaching a new cease-fire agreement in order to rebuild their damaged infrastructure in the West Bank. Today 90 percent of their energy is being devoted to survival, and 10 percent to carrying out attacks, Dichter estimated. "If there is a new hudna, this proportion will change," he said.

On Tuesday, the last day of the Moslem special month of Ramadan, Israel released ten Jordanian prisoners. None was convicted of a violent crime. Foreign Minister Shalom had argued that it would be mistake to release the Jordanians as part of a larger prisoner release with Hizbullah, since that would give Hizbullah credit in the Arab world for being able to release prisoners while the Jordanian government, even with its peace pact with Israel, would be seen as unable to do so. His recommendation to release them to Jordan without any intermediaries was accepted.

Also at the Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon responded to media reports that the government is considering taking unilateral steps in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The PM said that Israel is committed to the Roadmap, but that he does not rule out unilateral steps. The Prime Minister emphasized that his position is not yet fully formed, and that any plan will be submitted to the cabinet at the appropriate time.

The prime minister later told Likud MKs that there would be no additional concessions to the Palestinians before high- level meetings. He said that he would not make any concessions or ease restrictions on the Palestinians in order to get Israeli-Palestinian meetings to start.

Sharon also said that the government's decision on the route of the fence "wont be changed. Period," in an answer to a question from MK Gidon Saar.

"Don't be impressed by press reports," he told Likud members. "We will not wait for them forever; nor will we wait for repeated cabinet changes. If there is no progress, we will take unilateral steps.

"What they didn't receive today, they won't necessarily receive tomorrow. Unilateral steps mean nonnegotiable steps; and these won't always be to their benefit," he said.

"I have told the Palestinians that their time is not unlimited. I am against drawing timetables but there is a limit to our patience. Time is not unlimited; our patience is. There is no way we will continue to suppress our reaction to continuing acts of terror," the Prime Minister added. But he also said, "It is clear that in the end we will not be sitting in all the locations we are now situated."

According to press reports, Sharon's unstated ideas include dismantling isolated settlements and clustering others behind the security fence. He insisted that if Israel is forced to make unilateral steps it would not be in the Palestinians favor.

Sharon reiterated controversial statements of his: that it was not good to have three million Palestinians under Israeli control. "Under our current economic situation it is unrealistic to control that many Palestinian people," he said.

Almost the entire Likud faction expressed opposition to dismantling settlements. One MK after another told the PM they adamantly oppose evacuating settlements unilaterally.

According to Israel Radio, the recent declarations of Sharon are results of a secret meeting between the prime minister and US National Security Council member Eliot Abrams that took place in Rome last week. Abrams, a top liaison between the White House and Israel, reportedly informed Sharon of the Bush administration's impatience with progress on the road map, and made clear the US demand for Israel to remove illegal outposts and freeze settlement construction.

Sharon responded by saying that he intends to take unilateral steps in the territories.

Palestinian officials and Israeli liberals were skeptical. "We've heard many promises, but nothing has come of them," said Israeli opposition leader Shimon Peres, adding that the removal even of small settlements would break up Sharon's center-right coalition. "I don't think Sharon is in a hurry to take apart his government," Peres said.

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials are confident that they can broker a hudna (temporary cease-fire) agreement between the various Palestinian factions by December 9, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath told The Jerusalem Post this week.

Such a deal could then form the basis for a permanent cease- fire with Israel. After the factions agree to the move, PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei will take the pact to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for permanent cease-fire talks. As mentioned previously, ISA head Avi Dichter says that the terror organizations want the hudna to rebuild their capabilities.


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