During the course of his negotiations with Damascus-based Palestinian terror masters in Cairo this week, PA chieftain Mahmoud Abbas made two revealing statements.
First, on Tuesday, Abbas said that upon receiving security control of Jericho from the Israel Defense Force, he would release from custody all of the Palestinian terrorists who have been incarcerated there since May 2002. Those terrorists, who were transferred to Jericho from Yasser Arafat's Ramallah headquarters as part of a British and US deal with Israel, include the assassins who murdered Israel's tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi in October 2001 and Fuad Shubaki, the PA's chief arms purchaser who oversaw the Karine A terror weapons ship purchase from Iran that was intercepted by Israeli commandos on the Red Sea in January 2002.
On Wednesday, Abbas went a step further. He told the terror masters who are now based in Damascus that after the exit of Israeli forces and civilians from Gaza and the transfer of control over the international border with Egypt to the PLO, they would all be invited to move their headquarters to the Gaza Strip.
That is, Abbas said that in the aftermath of the implementation of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to forcibly expel 8,000 Jews from their homes and end all IDF counterterror operations inside Gaza, Abbas will respond by transforming it into a base for global terrorism. This offer can be viewed as particularly credible given that it was made in the presence of Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Walid Mualem, whose government is now facing increasing international condemnation for enabling these global terrorists to operate in its capital.
Surprisingly, the Israeli government reacted with near hysteria to Abbas's statement about releasing the terrorists in Jericho. Government members and spokesmen took to the microphones immediately after Abbas's statement was published and said that if he dared to free Ze'evi's killers, Israel would contemplate ending the peace process and hunt them down.
The government's reaction was frankly inexplicable, given that Sharon and his fellows have given credence to Abbas's demand that Israel release all Palestinian terrorists from its jails. Acting on this demand, the government has already released 500 terrorists from prison and is planning on springing another 400 in short order.
Indeed, every single demand that Abbas has made on Israel, like every step he has taken to placate the various Palestinian terror groups, has been met with understanding by Israel. Israel has accepted his policy ? practically if not publicly ? of taking absolutely no action against any terror organizations, leaders or infrastructures.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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