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PM may `pardon´ two wanted PA security men (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amos Harel 01/28/05)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/533050.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is leaning toward adopting a recommendation by the Israel Defense Forces to take two senior members of the Palestinian security mechanisms, Taufik Tirawi and Rashid Abu-Shbakh, off Israel´s wanted list.

Shin Bet security service chief Avi Dichter is vehemently opposed to the move.

The Maariv daily reported yesterday that Israel promised the Palestinians this week that it would no longer pursue Tirawi, the commander of the Palestinian Authority´s general intelligence network in the West Bank, and Abu-Shbakh, who heads the PA´s counter-security mechanism in the Gaza Strip.

The Shin Bet charges that the two men and their people were involved in terror attacks in the initial stages of the conflict in the territories. In light of this, security ties with the two PA mechanisms were severed.

Political and security forces have confirmed to Haaretz that Israel plans to "pardon" the two. The proposed move, however, has become an intense bone of contention within the defense establishment.

Dichter has long believed that senior Palestinian officials tainted by terror cannot be exonerated by Israel for their past actions, and the Shin Bet chief has not changed his tune in light of the recent warming in relations between Israel and the PA.

In contrast, senior IDF officers - from Military Intelligence and the Central and Southern Commands - have recommended renewing ties with the two PA security mechanisms. The IDF believes that all the PA security mechanisms have been involved to some extent in acts of terror, and that for the current fight against terrorism to succeed, Israel needs the assistance of the PA´s powerful figures, Tirawi and particularly Abu-Shbakh among them.

The PA yesterday began deploying policemen in the south of the Gaza Strip, as well. Forces have been posted on the outskirts of Khan Yunis, in the area overlooking Gush Katif, with the aim of preventing mortar fire at Israeli targets. Hundreds of policemen have also been stationed in the area of Rafah.

The Philadelphi Route remains under full Israeli security control.

A senior IDF source yesterday praised PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). "He turns his words into actions," the source said. "There´s a substantial chance for progress. The activity of the [security] mechanisms draws its strength from Abu Mazen´s public support, which broadens as long as the quiet continues." (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 01/28/05)

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