Almagor to Barak: Don't use Tarif as envoy to PA

January 25, 2010 06:13
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The Almagor terror victims association sent Defense Minister Ehud Barak a letter on Sunday urging him to stop using former minister Salah Tarif, who is a convicted felon, as his envoy to the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world.

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Ma'ariv's Ben Caspit revealed on Sunday that Barak has used Tarif as an emissary to PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders, despite his 2004 bribery conviction and a judge's ruling that Tarif cannot hold public office until 2014.

Caspit wrote that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's associates see Tarif's involvement in the diplomatic issue as problematic.

In a letter that was also sent to Netanyahu, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Almagor director Meir Indor wrote Barak that it was especially problematic that Tarif was in contact with "current and former terrorists."

"Such missions require clean hands, but Tarif has failed such tests in the past," Indor wrote in the letter.

Barak's associates responded by downplaying Tarif's role. They said he was merely an adviser on Arab affairs to Barak in Labor and that Barak had only given Tarif a role, because as the first Druse minister, he is one of the strongest people in one of Labor's key sectors.

"The position is an honorary one and has no substance," a Labor source said. "With all due respect, Barak doesn't need Salah Tarif to get to Abu Mazen [Abbas]."

Tarif declined to confirm or deny any of the details in the report about him.

"Now that I am not in the Knesset, I don't have to answer to anyone anymore," Tarif said. "I just do what my conscience tells me to do."

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