Washington Week

Jewish World Review May 22, 2002 / 11 Sivan, 5762

Despite authenticating seized terror documents, State Dept. blames bombings against Jews on Israel

By Eli J. Lake

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | (UPI) The United States on Tuesday said Israel's "destruction of the Palestinian Authority's security infrastructure" was partly responsible for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's failure to control extremists.

According to the State Department's latest report on "Patterns of Global Terrorism" -- the first to be published since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington -- Israeli military attacks on West Bank cities and targeted strikes against Palestinian police stations and security establishments undermined Arafat's ability to arrest extremists and restore order.

The report echoes the Palestinian Authority's own complaints that the Israeli strategy of shelling prisons and police stations and forcing the Palestinian security organizations into disarray had made it more difficult to arrest and hold militant Palestinians.

"Israel's destruction of the Palestinian Authority's security infrastructure contributed to the ineffectiveness of the PA," the report says. "Significantly reduced Israeli-PA security cooperation and a lax security environment allowed Hamas and other groups to rebuild terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian territories."

Meanwhile, the State Department said Tuesday it believed Palestinian documents seized by the Israelis in West Bank raids last month are authentic, but differed with the Israeli authorities on their interpretation.

"We don't have any question about the authenticity of those documents," Ambassador Francis X. Taylor, the State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism, told reporters Tuesday.

He made the comment when asked specifically about one document the Israelis said was in Arafat's handwriting authorizing funding for Tanzim, the militant wing of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Fatah organization, and for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

The State Department has designated al-Aqsa as a foreign terrorist organization.

Documents captured by Israel and made available to journalists last month show detailed memos the Israelis said were from top Palestinian intelligence officials on the activities of terrorist cells operating in the territories.

The Israelis say the documents are a paper trail showing that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the top levels of the Palestinian Authority had direct links to militant attacks on Israelis in the intifada, or uprising.

Senior Palestinian officials, including Arafat, have denounced the documents as forgeries. Taylor's statement was the first indication that the State Department regards them as genuine.

However, Taylor said the State Department reserves judgment on whether the documents implicate Arafat or the Palestinian Authority's senior leadership.

This view is in line with the State Department's latest periodic report on Palestinian compliance with the commitments in peace agreements with Israel.

The report released last week, and covering a six-month period ending last December, said, "there is no conclusive evidence that senior leaderships of the (Palestinian Authority) or PLO were involved in planning or approving specific acts of violence."

Taylor stressed that the State Department was "continuing to examine these documents."

Eli J. Lake is UPI's State Department correspondent. To comment, please click here.


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