PA Will Not Disarm Terrorists

Palestinian Authority official Nasser Al-Kidwa told an Arabic-language London newspaper, "There is no such thing as 'disarming', nor will there be."

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Nissan Ratzlav-Katz, | updated: 12:21

Repeating the position expressed in many variations by PA officials in recent months, Al-Kidwa, responsible for the foreign relations of the PA, told Al-Hayat this week that the only step that would be taken is an "organization of arms" by agreement among all PA terrorist groups. The PA position on the matter would not change, Al-Kidwa declared, until "the Palestinian situation changes entirely."

In that regard, Al-Kidwa blamed Israel for the security situation in the PA, saying, "The Palestinians are still under Israeli occupation." The PA militias and police, he claimed, are in disarray and short of basic military supplies and training facilities due to Israeli policies.

In June of this year, Al-Kidwa told Reuters News Agency that the PA would not disarm "militants" until Israel totally withdraws to the pre-1967 borders. At the time, Al-Kidwa said his position "is based on international law and on a deep understanding of our responsibilities according to the Road Map, and I will not retract my words." PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, known as Abu Mazen, has never distanced himself from Al-Kidwa's remarks.

While the PA officially declares its desire to return to negotiations with Israel, the repeated statements by PA officials that they will not confront terrorists in their jurisdiction indicate a more pressing desire to collaborate with the Islamist groups. To that end, the PA has arranged for the Hamas terrorist organization to take part in upcoming parliamentary elections, has refrained from laying hands on Islamist terrorists (despite declarations to do so) and is granting monthly stipends to families of dead terrorists. In addition, public memorials and honors for terrorist leaders continue in the PA school system and in cultural venues.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has declared that the next step towards Road Map negotiations with the PA is the disarming of terrorist groups and the dismantling of the terror infrastructure. On Monday, White House spokesman Fredrick Jones similarly released a statement calling upon the PA to disarm terrorists and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure operating in the PA. Jones stated that the suicide bombing in Netanya was yet more proof of the need to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure to prevent future attacks.

In the Al-Hayat interview, Al-Kidwa also expressed support for permitting the PA candidacy of terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti, imprisoned for life in Israel on murder charges and for masterminding Fatah terrorist attacks. Barghouti received more than 90 percent support in recent Fatah primaries, held with an eye towards the planned January elections for the PA parliament. Al-Kidwa called upon the PA to exert more pressure on Israel to release Barghouti and all other imprisoned Arab terrorists.

More generally, Al-Kidwa, who is a nephew of the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, supports the political participation of the younger generation of Fatah, many of whom are leaders in the terrorist Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades. The rise of a younger leadership, Al-Kidwa said, "is a natural thing, and the door must open before it, for there is plenty of room for the new generation to take up positions like any other political force."