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      "Armed Terrorists" Enter PM´s Office

      The decision by the General Security Service to allow Abu Mazen's armed bodyguards to enter Prime Minister Sharon's office has aroused at least one call for the resignation of GSS Chief Ami Ayalon.
      First Publish: 5/21/2003, 12:35 PM

      The decision by the General Security Service to allow Abu Mazen's armed bodyguards to enter Prime Minister Sharon's office has aroused calls for the resignation of GSS Chief Ami Ayalon. The guards accompanied Abu Mazen when he met with Ariel Sharon this past Saturday night. Ynet was the first to report that the armed members of one of the PA paramilitary organizations were allowed into an area that Israeli government ministers' armed guards are not permitted to enter.

      One ministerial guard told Ynet that when the ministers arrive at the Prime Minister's Office, "the most we're allowed is to use the restrooms in the building's entrance."

      MK Yuval Shteinitz, Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that "chances of this sort must not be taken, and certainly not in the current situation with armed Palestinian policemen." He said that the subcommittee for secret services would discuss the matter.

      "There's nothing more absurd than allowing armed Palestinian terrorists into the offices of the government of Israel and the man who heads it," said MK Yuri Stern (National Union). Likud MK Yechiel Chazan went further: "I call upon the GSS head to resign immediately. In light of our bitter experience with the Palestinian, I don't consider Abu Mazen someone to trust, and certainly not his guards." Another Likud MK, Ehud Yatom, took another approach, saying that this was a "correct way of creating trust. Armed Israeli guards, too, enter the complex of U.S. President George Bush."

      The GSS would not comment officially, but several "unofficial" explanations were offered. One was that Israel wants to ensure that its guards can enter meetings with Arab leaders in the Palestinian Authority. Other security sources said, "Security considerations give way to diplomatic considerations," and that forbidding the guards from entering would have been an insult to Abu Mazen.