Palestinian Authority: PFLP Leader Arrested; Demonstrators Demand His Immediate Release; Zinni Visit Delayed
The Palestinian Authority arrested Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary General Ahmed Sa'adat. He was arrested under a presidential order by Yasser Arafat and is under interrogation, said Arafat adviser Bassam Abu Sharif.
Israel claims that Saadat planned the assassination of former Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze'evi on October 17 last year. Sa'adat was reported to be under Palestinian custody in the surroundings of the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Mohammad Dahlan, Palestinian Authority Security Chief in the Gaza Strip, said in a statement to the Qatari Al Jazeera TV that Sa'adat had been arrested, but that the Palestinian Authority would never hand him over to Israel.
"Until I see him behind bars, I won't believe it," Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's spokesman, Raanan Gissin, told Reuters. "We've been disappointed so many times and fed up with so many announcements that they've arrested someone."
Saadat was appointed PFLP secretary general to replace Abu-Ali Mustafa, after the latter was assassinated by Israel on August 27, 2001. The PFLP said that it killed the Israeli former Minister to avenge Mustafa's death.
Late last year, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has said that he will not permit Arafat to leave Ramallah until the Palestinian Authority arrests those responsible for Ze'evi's killing. The Israeli army has blockaded Arafat in his headquarters for almost six weeks.
In Gaza City, about 200 PFLP supporters demonstrated to demand the immediate release of their leader. A similar demonstration took place in Ramallah.
PFLP spokesman Maher Taher called in Damascus for Saadat's immediate release, saying his detention would force the group to "reconsider relations with the Palestinian Authority". , Taher described the arrest as "a dangerous development".
The announcement of Saadat’s arrest came just hours after Two settlers were killed Tuesday in separate incidents in the West Bank. Earlier in the day, Palestinian gunmen in the Bethlehem area shot a 71-year-old settler. This incident was followed by another shooting attack Tuesday evening at the entrance to the Givat Ze'ev settlement north of Jeurusalem. A 30-year-old woman was killed and another suffered moderate-to-serious injuries.
On Tuesday, the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas threatened to renew suicide attacks in Israel if Palestinian leader Arafat was not allowed to leave Ramallah. "If the Zionist enemy does not publicly and clearly announce the lifting of restrictions imposed on President Yasser Arafat, our brigades will react by launching several operations deep inside Zionist territory," Hamas' armed wing said in a statement.
Washington has announced it is rescheduling the visit of U.S. special envoy Anthony Zinni to the Middle East. Zinni was expected to arrive on Friday. An American official said Monday that "Zinni will be coming soon." No official explanantion was given to this delay.
Before returning to Washington from his last visit to the region, Zinni told the Joint Israel and PA High Security Committee to agree on measures toward implementing a cease-fire. However, since his departure, the council has not met. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)