Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Monday appointed a convicted terrorist as his advisor for local governments on Monday, the eve of the PA’s internationally-brokered meeting with an Israeli representative in Amman.
Mahmoud Awad Damra, “Abu Awad”, was released from his 15 year prison sentence in October as part of Israel’s deal with Hamas to exchange 1,027 convicted criminals and terrorists for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Damara is the former commander of the PA presidential guard, Force 17, established by former PLO chief Yasser Arafat. Damara was arrested outside of Ramallah and convicted in 2006 for his role in planning and coordinating numerous terror attacks, choosing locations, training killers, and supplying weapons. His victims include US citizens Esh-Kodesh Gilmore and Rabbi Binyamin and Talia Kahane.
Rabbi Kahane was the son of the controversial Jewish activist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was also murdered in 1990. The “presidential decree” promoting Damra came just 2 days after the 11th anniversary of the murders of Binyamin and Talia, whose 6 children are now being raised by Talia’s sister.
Two years ago, while Damra was in prison, Abbas promoted him to the rank of major-general. Damra served only a third of his sentence prior to release.
Israeli and Palestinian representatives will meet for the first time in 16 months to determine whether and how diplomatic negotiations would proceed. Expectations from both sides have been reported as low.