Israeli military chiefs clash with Netanyahu over Arafat

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The Independent Online
Israel's army commander and two senior intelligence chiefs have clashed with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, over their advice that Palestinian leaders will not act against the Islamic militants of Hamas unless Israel fulfills its part of the Oslo accords. According to Ze'ev Schiff, the military editor of the daily Ha'aretz newspaper, the clash happened at a cabinet meeting last week attended by Amnon Shahak, the army chief of staff, Ami Ayalon, the head of the Shin Bet Security service, and Major General Amos Gilad, deputy head of military intelligence.

Asked if Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, would co-operate in rooting out the infrastructure of Hamas, Gen Gilad said that the Palestinian leader had no reason to do so, so long as he believed that Israel was not complying with the Oslo agreement. Mr Netanyahu asked: "In other words, in your opinion, Arafat will never co-operate in the war on terrorism?" "That's not what I said," replied Gen Gilad. "I said he wouldn't co-operate as long as he thinks there is no diplomatic process and Israel is avoiding fulfilling its part of its agreements." For some time it has been clear that the army thinks Mr Netanyahu is alienating and provoking Mr Arafat, when effective action against Hamas requires his co- operation.

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