Israel may allow Fatah to receive arms

Dayton plan calls to supply Abbas's Force 17 with bullets, Kalashnikovs.

By
June 7, 2007 00:32
4 minute read.
Israel may allow Fatah to receive arms

olmert 298 ap. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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Israel is considering authorizing the transfer of millions of bullets and thousands of Kalashnikov rifles from Egypt to forces in the Gaza Strip loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Officials said that while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's scheduled meeting with Abbas in Jericho on Thursday was canceled, Israel was still considering allowing the transfer of the weaponry to Abbas's Force 17 "Presidential Guard," as part of efforts to strengthen Fatah in face of the growing Hamas threat in Gaza.

  • Solana: Gaza peace force possible High-ranking defense officials told the Post Wednesday that security chiefs in Abbas's office passed on a "weapons shopping list" to Gen. Keith Dayton, the US security coordinator to Israel and the Gaza Strip, in the middle of May, asking for millions of bullets and thousands of rifle magazines, hand grenades and Kalashnikov automatic rifles. The officials said Dayton then passed the list on to the Egyptians, who would need to provide the arms and ammunition, as well as to Israel's Defense Ministry, which would need to authorize the transfer. The defense officials said that Dayton personally recommended that Israel permit the weapons supply. Two weeks ago, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on the Middle East in Washington, Dayton stressed the importance of American efforts to bolster forces loyal to Fatah and said further help was necessary. "We are entering a rough patch," Dayton said in reference to the recent escalation in factional fighting in Gaza, "but all is not lost and our regional partners share that sentiment. However, it is critical that those who support the legitimate authority and forces represented by President Abbas receive the critical assistance they need." While officials predicted that Olmert would eventually authorize the weapons transfer, not everyone in the defense establishment supports allowing the flow of more weaponry into the Gaza Strip. One person who does favor the idea is Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh. Other officials are opposed. They say Fatah does not need additional weapons to be able to challenge Hamas. According to one high-ranking official, while the weapons would be delivered to Fatah, they would eventually find their way to Hamas. "The last thing needed are more weapons in the Gaza Strip," said one official closely involved in the deal. The official said Fatah was split into several groups. "What good would it do to allow Fatah to get weapons if they won't be used against Hamas?" the official asked. Israeli officials stressed that the weapons would not be transferred by Israel to the PA. "We do not physically supply the Palestinians with weapons," an official in Defense Minister Amir Peretz's office said. "We just allow it to happen." A senior Western official claimed Wednesday that "there is no US component to this issue." Israel is considering authorizing the transfer of millions of bullets and thousands of Kalashnikov rifles from Egypt to forces in the Gaza Strip loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Officials said that while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's scheduled meeting with Abbas in Jericho on Thursday was canceled, Israel was still considering allowing the transfer of the weaponry to Abbas's Force 17 "Presidential Guard," as part of efforts to strengthen Fatah in face of the growing Hamas threat in Gaza. High-ranking defense officials told the Post Wednesday that security chiefs in Abbas's office passed on a "weapons shopping list" to Gen. Keith Dayton, the US security coordinator to Israel and the Gaza Strip, in the middle of May, asking for millions of bullets and thousands of rifle magazines, hand grenades and Kalashnikov automatic rifles. The officials said Dayton then passed the list on to the Egyptians, who would need to provide the arms and ammunition, as well as to Israel's Defense Ministry, which would need to authorize the transfer. The defense officials said that Dayton personally recommended that Israel permit the weapons supply. Two weeks ago, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on the Middle East in Washington, Dayton stressed the importance of American efforts to bolster forces loyal to Fatah and said further help was necessary. "We are entering a rough patch," Dayton said in reference to the recent escalation in factional fighting in Gaza, "but all is not lost and our regional partners share that sentiment. However, it is critical that those who support the legitimate authority and forces represented by President Abbas receive the critical assistance they need." While officials predicted that Olmert would eventually authorize the weapons transfer, not everyone in the defense establishment supports allowing the flow of more weaponry into the Gaza Strip. One person who does favor the idea is Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh. Other officials are opposed. They say Fatah does not need additional weapons to be able to challenge Hamas. According to one high-ranking official, while the weapons would be delivered to Fatah, they would eventually find their way to Hamas. "The last thing needed are more weapons in the Gaza Strip," said one official closely involved in the deal. The official said Fatah was split into several groups. "What good would it do to allow Fatah to get weapons if they won't be used against Hamas?" the official asked. Israeli officials stressed that the weapons would not be transferred by Israel to the PA. "We do not physically supply the Palestinians with weapons," an official in Defense Minister Amir Peretz's office said. "We just allow it to happen." A senior Western official claimed Wednesday that "there is no US component to this issue." Herb Keinon contributed to the report.

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