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The Palestinian Authority’s call for the United States to release captured Achille Lauro thug Abu Abbas is not only the height of cynicism but is also a virtual declaration that they are free to target anyone and anything, at a time and place of their choosing, in the name of Palestinian nationalism.
With straight faces, Senior PA official and Arafat confidant, Saeb Erekat and others, argued last week that since President Clinton was a signatory to an interim Oslo amnesty agreement covering unlawful acts committed by PLO members before the signing of the Oslo treaty in 1993, Abbas cannot be prosecuted for the 1986 killing of American Leon Klinghoffer on the Achille Lauro.
Surely this is not the first time that Arafat and the Palestinians have tried to gain the benefits of the Oslo agreements on the one hand while having scuttled them by refusing to comply with their substantive terms. But it is the most outrageous. In view of the history of persistent Palestinian noncompliance, the breakup at Camp David and the continuing intifada, the notion of the continuing applicability of Oslo is just laughable. And the Arafat crowd knows it.
Moreover, Leon Klinghoffer was an American citizen killed on the high seas on an Italian ship! What can that conceivably have to do with an amnesty agreement covering acts against Israel? If Abbas had gone to New York City in 1985 and murdered an American citizen on line at an American Airlines terminal, could he now not be prosecuted because of some interim Oslo agreement?
This also cannot not elude Arafat, et al., who usually go to great lengths to at least publicly deplore terrorist violence.
Why then the obviously foolish call for the release of Abbas?
Abbas was caught last week in Iraq, where he has lived for years under the protection of Saddam Hussein. Israeli intelligence reports, based upon information gathered through interrogations of prisoners taken during Operation Defensive Shield, say he continued as head of the Palestine Liberation Front and regularly interacted with other expatriate terrorists given safe harbor in Iraq. In addition, the reports maintain that the PLF was employed by the Iraqi government with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks in Israel. And, although little known, Abbas remains on the PLO Executive Committee, its highest body.
It would seem that Mr. Arafat has a real need to stay on the good side of Mr. Abbas, a former and doubtless still, comrade-in-arms, with quite a story to tell. Say, as in turning state’s evidence?
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