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Palestinians in S America reject US refugee plans

In the latest batch of leaks by Al-Jazeera, Israeli and Palestinian officials conspired to kill a prominent militant and Palestinian communities in South America condemn a US proposal to settle refugees in their countries

AFP , Wednesday 26 Jan 2011
Al-Jazeera
The newsroom at the headquarters of the Al-Jazeera satellite channel in Doha.(AFP)
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Top Israeli and Palestinian officials discussed killing a Palestinian militant and British security urged Palestinian police to intern Hamas leaders, documents leaked late by Al-Jazeera suggested.

The documents, part of Al-Jazeera's Palestine papers, cited what they said was a 2005 conversation between Palestinian Interior Minister Nasr Youssef and Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz in which they talked about assassinating a prominent militant, Hassan Al-Madhoun.

The report by Al-Jazeera television quotes Mofaz as asking Youssef : "Why don't you kill him?"

"We gave instructions to (Palestinian West Bank security chief) Rasheed (Abu Shabak) and we will see," Youssef  replied.

Madhoun, of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the armed wing linked to the secular Fatah faction of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, was killed in an Israeli missile strike in Gaza in late 2005, after Mofaz ordered a resumption of targeted assassinations after a mall bombing killed five Israelis.

The reported discussion is contained in more than 1,600 files detailing over a decade of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that Al-Jazeera began leaking on Sunday night.

The latest batch also shows that Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, proposed a plan to encourage the Palestinian security agencies to detain Palestinians without trial in a bid to weaken militant groups like the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and the armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

An alleged British document discusses "degrading the capabilities" of the groups "through the disruption of their leadership communications and command and control capabilities."

"We could also explore the temporary internment of leading Hamas and PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) figures, making sure they are well-treated, with EU funding," it added.

Meanwhile Palestinian communities in Chile and Argentina have condemned a US proposal, floated during peace talks more than two years ago, to settle Palestinian refugees in the two South American states.

Former US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice proposed the idea during a June 2008 meeting in Berlin with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, according to leaked documents Al-Jazeera.

Rice was seeking an alternative for the estimated five million Palestinians, exiled from Israel since its creation in 1948, who may want to return to their original homes. The refugee question remains an obstacle in peace talks.

The idea "is impracticable," Mauricio Abu Ghosh, president of the Palestinian Federation of Chile, told AFP.

"Chile is a good place for any foreigner, but the idea is not that Chile becomes the home for Palestinians," he said.

The plan was based on Chile having a strong Palestinian community -- its population of about 300,000 is the largest in South America -- and an abundance of uninhabited land, like Argentina, which however has only 420 Palestinian families.

"It seems a terrible idea to us to once again move people who have already been displaced, because it will be just moving them instead of granting them their legitimate rights," Tilda Rabi, president of the Federation of Palestinian Organisations in Argentina, told AFP.

In 2008, Chile welcomed more than 100 Palestinians as part of a resettlement programme sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Chile and Argentina are among the half-dozen South American countries, including Brazil, that have formally recognised Palestine as an independent state, to the irritation of Israel and the United States.

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