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The Mashal and Jabari Affairs: Déjà Vu, All Over Again?

Has Israel attempted murder twicein the cases of Hamas officials Khaled Mashal and Ahmed Jabariin order to deliberately prevent peace with Hamas?

According to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who had been acting as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, Ahmed Jabari had received a draft of a "permanent truce agreement with Israel" shortly before he was assassinated. Did Israel deliberately incite hostilities with Hamas, then use those hostilities as a pretext to murder Jabari expressly to derail the possibility of peace?

A very similar incident of the past suggests that the answer may be affirmative. In Man in the Shadows, the autobiography of former Mossad Director Efraim Halevy, Halevy mentioned Jordan’s King Hussein calling Israel’s attempted assassination of Khaled Mashal “beyond comprehension” because shortly before the hit, the King had met with a Mossad agent to broker a 30-year truce between Israel and Hamas.

Is it possible that Israel wants to keep expropriating Palestinian land in the West Bank much more than it wants peace, and thus needs the pretext of Hamas "terrorism" to justify its land-grabbing? If so, perhaps the last thing Israel really wants is lasting peace with Hamas.

There seems to be a strong parallel between the Mashal and Jabari "hits," and an equally strong suggestion that Israel would rather murder people than have peace with Hamas. If this is true, the Jabari hit is especially troubling because according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights its aftermath resulted in the deaths of 102 civilians, including 30 children, and nearly triggered a war (or, more likely, another massacre like Operation Cast Lead).

Here is how a leading Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported the Jabari assassination: “Hours before Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari was assassinated, he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the cease-fire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip. This, according to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit and has since then maintained a relationship with Hamas leaders. Baskin told Haaretz that senior officials in Israel knew about his contacts with Hamas and Egyptian intelligence aimed at formulating the permanent truce, but nevertheless approved the assassination. ‘I think that they have made a strategic mistake,’ Baskin said, an error ‘which will cost the lives of quite a number of innocent people on both sides.’”

But was it a "strategic mistake" or something more sinister? Here are the details of the prior assassination attempt, which may have also been triggered by Israeli government fears of a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas:

Khaled Mashal had been the primary leader of the Palestinian political organization Hamas since the assassination of Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004. (The British magazine New Statesman once listed Mashal as number 18 on its list of  the world's 50 most influential figures.) On September 25, 1997, Mashal was the target of an assassination attempt. Two Mossad agents carrying fake Canadian passports attacked Mashal as he walked into his Amman, Jordan office. One of the agents held a device to Mashal's left ear that transmitted a fast-acting poison. The agents then fled but were followed, apprehended and arrested. Immediately after the incident, Jordan's King Hussein demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turn over the antidote for the poison. At first Netanyahu refused, but American President Bill Clinton intervened and compelled Netanyahu to comply. The Director of the Mossad, Danny Yatom, then flew to Jordan with the antidote and Mashal's life was saved.

Clinton later said: “I cannot deal with this man [Netanyahu]; he is impossible.”

In his public comments about the botched assassination, speaking to Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, Yatom denied that he had recommended Mashal or anyone in Jordan as a potential target and furthermore said that Ami Ayalon, the Shin Bet director, and Amnon Shahak, the IDF chief of staff, had declined to name any Hamas targets to Netanyahu. So why was there what seems to have been a hasty, clumsy attempt to murder a man who wasn't on anyone's hit list, in a friendly state where the repercussions of an assassination could have been (and nearly proved to be) catastrophic?

The answer may be found in Halevy's autobiography, in which he devotes an entire chapter of 13 pages to the Mashal affair.

According to Halevy, four other Mossad agents who were not captured fled to the Israeli embassy in Amman. During Helevy’s meetings with King Hussein and Crown Prince Hassan, when he tried to arrange their transport back to Israel, the botched assassination was described as “a highly incompetent piece of work.” Was this, perhaps, because the assassination was a rush job?

What really happened? My educated guess is that when the Mossad agent referred to by King Hussein reported that a long-term truce with Hamas was on the table, the news was conveyed to Netanyahu, who unfortunately did not want peace with Hamas, and so the order was given to hastily arrange the assassination of Mashal.

How deeply involved was Netanyahu? According to Halevy, after the agents were arrested, Netanyahu “spent the whole night at Mossad headquarters” and “was personally overseeing the steps and moves of the Mossad as they dealt with the incident.” Halevy also mentioned that “the whole story had been placed under heavy censorship.” Was this because Netanyahu was in a panic because he couldn’t afford to let the world know that he had ordered an assassination expressly to prevent a long-term truce with Hamas?

At the time, Halevy was no longer with the Mossad, but because of his former good relationship with King Hussein, he was asked to intervene. He was rushed, at considerable expense, from Antwerp to Israel. His every travel request became like Moses parting the Red Sea. But in his memoirs Halevy wrote that, as he was rushed to Mossad headquarters, “A strange feeling crept over me. It was like returning to the scene of a crime.” Did he, perhaps, have a foreboding that a terrible crime had been committed — not just an assassination, but the murder of peace itself? Of course that is speculation on my part, but nothing seems to be beyond the madness of King Bibi ...

If you are unfamiliar with the real history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, or have been told that Israel is "only defending itself," please read Albert Einstein's 1948 letter to the New York Times and Einstein on Palestine: the Prophet of Peace. If you want to understand how the maps below relate to Israel's new offensive against Gaza, known as Operation "Pillar of Defense" or the biblical "Pillar of Clouds," please click here Amud Annan "Pillar of Fire." If you want to hear the opinion of the former U.S. president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who negotiated peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, please click here Jimmy Carter: "Israeli policy is to confiscate Palestinian territory." You may also want to read and consider Israeli Prime Ministers who were Terrorists and Does Israel Really Want Peace?

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