Palestinian police suspected of involvement in terror attacks

JERUSALEM, July 17 (JTA) — Israel has asked Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat to get involved in an inquiry into whether Palestinian police are cooperating with Hamas or acting independently to carry out terrorist attacks. Foreign Minister David Levy met Thursday with Egypt’s ambassador to Israel, Mohammed Basiouny, and asked him to convey the message to the Palestinian leader. The topic of Palestinian police involvement in terror attacks came up the night before, when Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai met with top Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha’ath at Basiouny’s home. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk also participated in the meeting. Mordechai said these actions posed a severe threat to any progress in the peace talks, adding that Israel would find it difficult to ignore the situation. The topic surfaced after three Palestinian police officers were arrested earlier this week near the West Bank town of Nablus. Israel suspected the three of being on their way to carry out a terror attack on the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha, located near Nablus. The three are currently being questioned by Israeli security forces. They have reportedly confessed to opening fire on Jewish settlers and conspiring to commit terrorist acts. Israel this week asked the Palestinian Authority to question a senior Palestinian police officer in Nablus, Col. Jihad Masini, whom Israeli officials believe sent the three on their mission. The Palestinian Authority rejected the request, but said it was conducting a thorough investigation into whether more Palestinian police are involved in terrorist activities. Palestinian sources stressed that there was no order from the Palestinian Authority to carry out attacks. Israeli security forces are on heightened alert after receiving warnings of possible attacks against Jewish settlers.

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