JERUSALEM (Dec. 21)
The CIA is playing a key role in the Israeli- Palestinian peace process.
According to a recent security agreement, the Palestinian Authority will inform the CIA when it wants to release prisoners. American officials will then relay the list to Israel, which will have the right to protest the releases.
The arrangement will give Israel indirect supervision of the Palestinian’s release policy, but the ultimate decision regarding the releases will be in the hands of CIA officials, according to the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot.
CIA representatives have been regular participants since August in Israeli- Palestinian security meetings.
Last week’s agreement was intended to deal with longstanding Israeli complaints regarding the “revolving door” policy in Palestinian jails that allows for the routine release of terrorists shortly after their arrest.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized this policy last week during remarks here last Friday to journalists attending the International Conference of the Jewish Media.
“For four years, they have been promising to combat terrorism,” he said of the Palestinian Authority.
Meanwhile, he added, “the murderers of little children and mothers are wandering around free.”
Israeli officials have repeatedly called for a Palestinian crackdown on terrorism as a precondition to any further redeployment of Israeli troops in the West Bank.
The Dec. 17 agreement was reached on the eve of last week’s meetings between U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Netanyahu in Paris and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in London.
The agreement also calls on the Palestinian Authority to prevent incitement against Israel, dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in areas under its control and collect illegal weapons, according to the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.