March 31, 2006

Hamas offered Israel a 30 year ceasefire

According to Ha'aretz a former Mossad chief Hamas offered Israel a 30 year ceasefire back in 1997.
A few days before the failed assassination attempt on Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Jordan in 1997, King Hussein conveyed an offer from the Hamas leadership to reach an understanding on a cease-fire for 30 years. That offer, intended for then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and conveyed by a Mossad representative, reached Netanyahu only after the botched hit.

This is just one of the details about past incidents that former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy reveals in his book, "Man in the Shadows," coming out in Britain on April 4, and soon to be released in Hebrew by Matar Publishing. In the book, Halevy discloses previously unknown details about security affairs from Israel's past.

Botched assassination

In September 1997, a Mossad squad tried to assassinate the leader of Hamas, Meshal, by drizzling poison in his ear. The attempt failed, two of the agents were captured and others found refuge in the Israeli embassy in Amman. Halevy recounts that King Hussein considered Israel's conduct a severe betrayal, made worse in view of the Hamas offer he had conveyed to Israel. Netanyahu called Halevy in to help calm Hussein, but the latter asked that Halevy not come to Amman, because he did not want a man whom he deemed a close friend to be involved in the nasty affair. Halevy set out nonetheless.

Relations with Amman deteriorated so badly that the king mulled demanding at a press conference that Israel turn in the Mossad agents who had fled to the embassy. If Israel did not turn them in, Hussein was seriously considering military action. Mossad discussed placating the king with various "gifts" for his army, such as night-vision equipment or upgrading some of his fighter planes.

Halevy thought otherwise. He suggested releasing Sheikh Ahmed Yassin from an Israeli prison and transfering him to Jordan, where King Hussein would then order him returned to the Gaza Strip. Opposition was fierce in the intelligence agencies and the Israeli Defense Forces. Support for Halevy's idea came mostly from then-defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai, and it was ultimately approved by Netanyahu.
Today's Ha'aretz is here.

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