RAMALLAH Ñ The Palestinian Authority has launched a campaign for the
release of a Palestinian terrorist captured in Iraq.
PA Local Authorities Minister Saeb Erekat said the arrest of Abul Abbas,
head of the Palestine Liberation Front, violates the 1995 accord with Israel
that granted amnesty for all Palestinian insurgents. Erekat said the
agreement was also signed by then-President Bill Clinton.
"The Palestinian-Israeli interim agreement signed on September 28, 1995
stated that members of the Palestine Liberation Organization must not be
detained or tried for matters they committed before the Oslo peace accord of
September 13, 1993," Erekat said. "This interim agreement was signed on the
U.S. side by President Clinton and his secretary of state, Warren
The PA said the U.S. capture of Mohammed Abul Abbas was illegal and that
he had never been sought by American authorities, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials asserted that
the State Department had determined in the late 1990s that it did not have
seek Abul Abbas's extradition from the Gaza Strip.
PA officials said Israel had not sought the extradition of Abul Abbas
during his stay in the Gaza Strip in 1998. They cited a determination by
Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein that Abbas does not pose a threat to
The United States has denied that Abul Abbas was granted immunity from
prosecution. U.S. officials did say that the State Department was examining
options regarding the PLF leader. So far, they said, the State Department
has contacted Italy, which issued a warrant for his arrest.
"We are currently looking at a variety of options to ensure he's brought
to justice," State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said. "The
United States believes that all terrorists should be brought to justice for
their crimes, so obviously, this will be a matter of discussion with the
government of Italy."