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Posted by Judith on 12:58:26 2005/05/16
Mofaz paints dim picture of PA security. (Jerusalem Post May 16)
By HERB KEINON
Israel views any attempt to develop a Kassam rocket in the West Bank as a "ticking
bomb" and will take the necessary military action to thwart it without first asking
the Palestinian Authority to act, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet
"The minute there is information about Kassam rockets we act," Mofaz said in
answer to a question about the Palestinian rocket arsenal.
Mofaz said that today in Gaza there were Kassam rockets with a range of 7 to 8
kilometers and that he could not guarantee that there were not longer range
rockets there as well.
Mofaz, in a security briefing to the cabinet, said that the PA was not taking action
against the Palestinian terrorist organizations and that the Hamas was emerging as
a "second" Palestinian Authority. He said Hamas was putting together a "people's
army" directly under the nose of the PA, which is supposed to have security
responsibility in the Palestinian territories.
Hamas, he said, was gaining both political and military strength in the territories.
Mofaz told the cabinet that Israel would not transfer additional Palestinian cities to
PA control until the PA fulfilled its commitments under the Sharm e-Sheikh
understandings and disarmed the fugitives in the cities Jericho and Tulkarem -
already under its security control.
A joint Israeli-Palestinian committee is scheduled to meet later this week to talk
about the fugitive issue. "If it turns out that they have disarmed them, we will move
forward," Mofaz said. "If now, we won't."
Mofaz said that April witnessed a dramatic upturn in terror incidents, and
represented a deterioration of the calm of the last few months. For example, he
said that in April there were 207 attacks from Gaza that endangered lives, as
opposed to March when there were 133 such incidents. May's statistics, he said,
have yet to be compiled.
Mofaz said the failure of the PA to stem the terrorist tide flowed from a lack of
willingness to confront the terrorist organizations, and to suffice instead with
trying to reach agreements with them.
The IDF's policy, Mofaz said, was to take military action where the PA failed to do
so. "Where they do not take action, we do," Mofaz said.
Mofaz said that talks are underway with the PA to prevent attacks on soldiers or
settlers during the disengagement, and to prevent massive looting of the
settlements once Israel leaves.
Turning to the recent escalation in Lebanon, Mofaz said that Israel is taking
Hizbullah head Sheikh Nasrallah's threats to kidnap Israeli soldiers very seriously,
and that there are concrete warnings regarding this possibility. He said that Israel
has relayed messages to Lebanon and the UN that Israel views Lebanon
responsible for what is taking place in the south Lebanon, and not only Hizbullah.
Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres intervened at this point, saying that Hizbullah is
a militia, not a state that sits in the UN, and that Israel should make clear that it
held sovereign Lebanon responsible for what was taking place inside its borders.
Minister-without-Portfolio Haim Ramon urged Mofaz do more to strengthen PA
Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and when Mofaz said that he was doing all he could,
Ramon said that he has sources inside the defense establishment who said that
more could be done.
National Infrastructures Minister Binymain Ben-Eliezer, meanwhile, urged Sharon
to meet immediately with Abbas. "I have no problem with this," Sharon said,
adding that the problem was Abbas's schedule, and that in the near future he
would be spending much of his time abroad.
Turning to the Iranian nuclear issue, Sharon reiterated his position to the cabinet
that Israel did not need to lead the campaign against Iran's march to nuclear
weapons, and that this was a world problem that the world needed to deal with.
Sharon argued that the Europeans are not all that excited about this struggle, and
that if Israel would take a leading role in the campaign it would only serve as a way
for them to lessen up on their pressure.
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