Tags: Israel | Frees | Senior | DFLP | Leader

Israel Frees Senior DFLP Leader

Monday, 02 June 2003 12:00 AM

Khaled, who is a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, was arrested at his house in the West Bank town of Ramallah during an Israeli army military operation that was carried out last year in the West Bank.

"My feelings are contradictory and mixed with joy and sadness," Khaled told United Press International in a telephone interview minutes after his release.

"I'm happy that I'm free, but sad for thousands of prisoners who remained in jails."

He said that thousands of Palestinian prisoners "are still suffering behind the bars and barbed wire in Israeli jails and detention camps," adding that his release 'won't change this reality.'"

"In these minutes, I can remember the detention camps which very much look like the detention camps in South Africa during the era of the Apartheid. Even after my release I have seen how our people are suffering from all these hard military roadblocks," said Khaled.

The DFLP is a Palestine Liberation Organization faction that opposes the "road map" peace plan. As one of the Palestinian opposition front's organizations, it calls for continuation of armed attacks against Israel.

Asked about a one-year "Hudna," or cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians, Khaled said that he was in contact with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Abbas, known as Abu Mazen.

"We can't talk about a Hudna in such circumstances as the Israeli military occupation and its tough military policies, which are practiced against our people in the West Bank and Gaza," said Khaled.

He said that reaching a Hudna "needs two parties, and not a unilateral Hudna," adding, "Sharon has to stop his aggressive actions and close the file of keeping hundreds of prisoners under administrative detention."

"If the occupation continues with its aggression against Palestinian people, no one then has the right to blame this people for practicing their right to resist this awful occupation," said Khaled.

During the meeting held between Sharon and Abu Mazen last week in Jerusalem, Sharon vowed that he would release Khaled as well as an elderly man who has lived more than half of his life in Israeli jails.

Sharon also promised to release 100 prisoners under administrative detention (held without a trial) and offer some 25,000 work permits for Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip for work in Israel.

Sharon and Abu Mazen are to meet in Aqaba on Wednesday with U.S. President George W. Bush to discuss the implementation of the internationally backed "road map" peace plan to end the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Khaled's release is a confidence-building measure on the eve of Wednesday's summit meeting in Aqaba, Jordan, among U.S. President George Bush, Sharon and Abbas.

A researcher at the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism, retired intelligence Col. Shalom Harari, said Khaled belonged to the Democratic Front's political wing. He transferred money and was involved in policy making but not in actual militant attacks.

Abbas asked Sharon to release Khaled, who was held in the Ofer Camp near Ramallah.

Sharon also undertook to free Jabara, of Fatah, also known as Abu Suker, who has been in jail for the past 27 years, accused of a militant attack that killed several sraelis.

A spokeswoman for the Prisons Authority said Abu Suker was not released yet.

The Prisons Authority is holding more than 2,000 Palestinians, who the Israelis have convicted of being militants, spokeswoman Orit Messer-Harel said.

Monday morning the army counted 3,371 Palestinians in its jails of whom 932 were "administrative detainees," or people held without trial, a military source told United Press International.

Sharon promised Abu Mazen to go over the names of the Palestinian administrative detainees and decide who may be freed. Palestinian sources told Israel Radio Sharon talked of some 100 people.

The prisoner-release issue has been a very sensitive one for the Palestinians and especially the new prime minister who was accused of ignoring their plight.

Harari noted many Palestinian leaders had been through Israeli jails for fighting Israel and some, such as Minister of State for Security Affairs Mohammad Dahlan, built their leadership there.

The prime minister does not have such a stint in his resume, Harari noted.

The Palestinians, too, seemed to be making steps that should build Israeli confidence in them.

Abbas turned down an offer for an Israeli pullback so that he can assume responsibility for security in parts of Gaza and the West Bank. He said he wanted to build a proper security force first.

Sharon also promised to offer some 25,000 work permits for Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip for work in Israel.

Sharon and Abu Mazen are to meet in Aqaba on Wednesday with U.S. President George W. Bush to discuss the implementation of the internationally backed "road map" peace plan to end the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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Khaled, who is a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, was arrested at his house in the West Bank town of Ramallah during an Israeli army military operation that was carried out last year in the West Bank. "My feelings are contradictory and...
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Monday, 02 June 2003 12:00 AM
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