Unprecedented Deal Between Israeli Authorities and a Fatah Leader

An unprecedented deal was worked out over the weekend between the Israeli authorities and Khalil Abu-Ziad, described as a senior Fatah leader in East Jerusalem and whom the authorities have been trying to deport since August 8.

The deal provides that Abu-Ziad would leave the country tomorrow voluntarily for a period of three years, promising not to engage in any anti-Israeli activities. If he keeps his part of the arrangement, the authorities committed themselves to allow him to return after three years.

Once the agreement was signed, the authorities cancelled their deportation order, issued by Gen. Amnon Shahak, head of the Military Command. Abu-Ziad, for his part, took back his appeal to the High Court of Justice against the deportation order. He was also released from his detention and allowed to meet with his wife for 48 hours, before leaving for Amman.

The authorities maintain that Abu-Ziad is involved in terrorist and subversive activities and that he maintains contact with people active in Fatah, both inside and outside the administered territories. They charge that his East Jerusalem book store is a meeting place for Palestine Liberation Organization activists.

Abu-Ziad had served a 10-year prison sentence for his Fatah activities. He was first arrested on suspicion of Fatah activities in September, 1979. He was released, then rearrested two months later, charged with heading a terrorist cell, and with receiving and distributing Fatah funds in the territories.

RECOMMENDATION BY THE REVIEW BOARD

Abu-Ziad, who has been under house arrest since 1982, appealed the deportation order to the military review board which recommended that Shahak reconsider his decision to have Abu-Ziad deported. While the review board said there was “legal and justified reason” for the deportation order, it said there “is nothing to link him directly with terrorist attacks.”

“Therefore, we recommend that the Military Commander reconsider whether under the circumstances and considering the role of the petitioner in Fatah, deportation is necessary in view of its extremely drastic and serious nature, “the reviewboard said. The board’s recommendation took defense officials by surprise inasmuch as the Board had till then been considered a rubber stamp for the approval of such decisions by the area commander.

The High Court ordered a stay of the deportation pending a review. The deportation, if implemented, would have amounted to the first such action under a Cabinet decision to take strict measures on the West Bank to combat a wave of anti-Jewish terrorism. In 1980, the Supreme Court approved the deportation of two West Bank Arab mayors.

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