New York — Former Labor Justice Minister and now head of the far left-wing Meretz Party Yossi Beilin, has criticized the U.S. and Israeli governments for approving further arms transfers to the forces of Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to bolster Abbas’ strength and that of his party Fatah. Beilin wrote today that “the last thing we need to add to the Palestinian Authority is more weapons … Today, arming one element in the PA due to the intention to see Fatah twist Hamas’ arm soon could end up as a terrible boomerang … it would constitute an incentive for Hamas to arm itself even more” ( Haaretz, April 17, 2007).
In December 2006, the Olmert government permitted Egypt to supply Abbas’ Fatah forces with 2,000 automatic rifles, 20,000 ammunition clips and 2 million bullets. In May 2006, the Olmert government itself transferred 370 assault rifles to Abbas’ presidential guard, Force 17. The following month, a senior Force 17 member, Abu Yousuf, did not deny that weapons from this shipment had been used in two terrorist attacks which resulted in the death of one Israeli. At that time, Yousuf also forewarned in an interview that, “These weapons will not be used in an internal war but against Israelis … [Israel transferred these weapons] for its own political purposes. We are not concerned with the reasons. The weapons will not be used against our brothers, only [against] Israelis” (World Net Daily, June 15, 2006).
It is noteworthy that when Israel permitted Egypt to transfer arms to the PA last December, the former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yuval Steinitz, said, this is a “bad mistake … A lot of IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians will be killed with these weapons … We haven’t yet seen that Abbas is determined to contain terrorism, and there’s a greater chance that these weapons will be used against [our] soldiers, and we’ll have to combat terrorism” (Jerusalem Post, December 28, 2006). Predictions that arming Abbas is likely to result in weapons going to terrorists attacking Israel are also supported by the words of a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a Palestinian Arab terrorist group which specializes in rocket attacks upon Israeli civilians, who stated a the time of December transfer of weapons, “We promise to show Israelis very soon that the weapons brought for the Presidential Guard and [PA] security forces will be used against the occupation” (Israel National News, December 28).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is noteworthy that a leftist like Yossi Beilin agrees with the ZOA’s position — that giving arms to Mahmoud Abbas can only cause harm and lead to more bloodshed. The ZOA has warned repeatedly that transferring weapons to any forces within the PA is a tragic error that will result in more deaths of Israelis men, women and children. The Israeli government should be doing all in its power to weaken all Palestinian terrorist forces, not merely those under the control of figures other than Mahmoud Abbas. We urge the Israeli government to cease all such arms transfers and reiterate our long-standing call for it to wage a consistent and sustained counter-terrorist campaign. We further urge it to abstain from all negotiations with and concessions to the PA until and unless it fulfills all Palestinian obligations under signed agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan to cease all terrorism, arrest and extradite terrorists, confiscate illegal weaponry and close the bomb factories as well as ending the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terrorism.”