Israeli officials are considering lodging a formal complaint with the Palestinian Authority following reports that some agents in the Palestinian security service are wanted by Israel.
They are being sought in connection with the killings of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel during the intifada, the six-years uprising against Israel.
Israeli security sources said they would examine footage from a recent ceremony in the West Bank town of Jericho that marked the end of the first training course for the Palestinian security service.
According to a report on an Israeli television station, more than a third of the graduates were wanted by Israel, mostly for their alleged involvement in the killing of fellow Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel.
Palestinian security chief Jibril Rajoub responded to Israeli criticism, saying that he himself had been in an Israeli jail and that it would be unreasonable for Israel to rule out every Palestinian who had acted against Israel in the past.
Environment Minister Yossi Sarid called the recruitment of these agents a grave mistake on the part of the Palestinian Authority, adding they could block further progress in implementing the Palestinian self-rule accord.
“The agreement between us is based on trust, and I am hard-pressed to understand why, almost every day, things are done in the Palestinian Authority to hurt this essential trust,” he said.
The Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser, Yoel Singer, said recruitment of agents to the Palestinian security service without Israel’s consent violates the May 4 Cairo Agreement for implementing Palestinian self-rule.
The Palestinian Authority has meanwhile released 30 activists with the Islamic Jihad who were arrested after last week’s suicide bombing in the Gaza Strip claimed the lives of three Israeli soldiers.
Palestinian sources said that those released had no connection to the Islamic Jihad’s military activities, adding that the release order came from Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat in an effort to ease tensions that erupted in Gaza following the arrests.
More than 170 members of Islamic Jihad were arrested following last week’s bombing. Arafat had ordered similar arrests of fundamentalist militants in the wake of other recent terror attacks against Israelis, only to order their release in a matter of days.