Hamas Ministers May Be Hunted, Says ex-Israeli Spy Chief

The architect of Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinians has said Israel should hunt down wanted Hamas leaders even if they become ministers in a newly elected Palestinian government.

Hamas Ministers May Be Hunted, Says ex-Israeli Spy Chief

Avi Dichter, who used to head the Shin Bet security agency and is seen as a frontrunner for a top security post after Israel's March 28 general election, said he doubted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would remain in power, except as a "puppet leader", following Hamas' election victory.

"Abbas knows very well that he's going to find himself in a high-noon situation, and I'm sure that he is fully aware of the fact that he is not going to be the last man standing," said Dichter.

He said Abbas may resign, or Hamas leaders could replace him with one of their own or another figurehead. Dichter no longer holds a policy-making position but he wields clout within the centrist Kadima party, founded by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon before his January 4 stroke.

Speaking to reporters at Kadima's campaign headquarters in the city of Petach Tikva, Dichter said Hamas' crushing victory over Abbas' long-dominant Fatah party in Wednesday's parliamentary election amounted to a "revolution" that caught everyone by surprise.

Dichter warned that violence between Hamas and Fatah gunmen could spread, and said Israel should wait and see what unfolds before deciding how to proceed.  Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday Israel would boycott a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

The militant group was propelled to victory by its anti-corruption platform, charity network and nearly 60 suicide bombings in Israel since a Palestinian uprising began in 2000. Dichter singled out by name senior Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh when asked whether Hamas leaders-turned-ministers would be targeted for assassination despite their possible new roles in a democratically-elected government.

"If tomorrow Ismail Haniyeh will become the minister of whatever, of health, he'll continue to be the generator of terror attacks from the Gaza Strip," Dichter said. "If we'll come to arrest him, terrorists will not get any immunity just because he is a minister. It's not going to be a shelter," Dichter said.

Under Dichter's leadership, Israel expanded a policy of assassinating Palestinian militants as a key strategy against an uprising that erupted in September 2000 after failed peace talks.

The killings were widely supported by Israelis. But Palestinians and world leaders condemned the killings, saying they have fuelled violence and undermined peace efforts.



http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=2&ObjectID=10366004

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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