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Former Shabak Security Chief Avi Dichter: 'There Is No Israeli Intelligence Assessment That Palestinians Will Launch New War Of Terrorism After Israel Implements Disengagement'

'Withdrawal From Gaza Strip May Reduce Terrorism; Israel Must Prevent Terrorists From Taking Control Of West Bank Areas'

'There Are Israeli Fanatics Who Would Not Hesitate To Put A Bullet In The Prime Minister Because They Realize This Is The Only Way to Halt Disengagement'

Avi Dichter

Former Shabak Security Chief Avi Dichter rejects the assessment of former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon that the Palestinians are likely to launch a new war of terrorism after Israel implements a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and 4 settlements in West Bank this fall. In interviews with Israeli newspapers, Dichter says the Palestinians realize that after murdering 1042 Israelis during the past four and a half years, they have achieved nothing and have actually been losing the confrontation. The former security chief warned that Israeli extremists now realize that the Prime Minister is bound on carrying out the disengagement and would assassinate Sharon if given the chance. Dichter also reveals how the 'targeted killing' of terrorist leaders has been so effective in combating Palestinian terrorism.

'Israeli fanatics realize that Sharon is determined to implement the withdrawal and, if given the chance, they would put a bullet in the PM to stop it!' That's the assessment of former Shabak security chief Avi Dichter who also rejects the view of former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon who foresees the Palestinians launching a new war of terrorism after the disengagement this fall.In wide-ranging interviews after returning to private life, Dichter spoke openly to several Israeli dailies. Here are some excerpts from Maariv:

Question: What is the current level of threat to the life of Prime Minister Sharon?

Dichter: I believe that if rivals discovered a breach in our protection, they would exploit the opportunity.

Question: Who are the rivals?

Dichter: There are extreme fanatics in Israel who would have absolutely no problem over putting a bullet in the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister or the Shabak chief. They realize the only thing that can halt the disengagement is taking out the PM. That's their plan and it's scary; however, as Chief of Staff Dan Halutz says, 'fear is not an option'.Dichter has also warned that an attack by Jewish fanatics on the Muslim holy sites on Jerusalem's Temple Mount would trigger massive Muslim attacks by on Jewish sites abroad.

Question: What is your view about former IDF Chief of Staff's Yaalon's dire forecast that Intifada #3 is probably on the way?

Dichter: Yaalon painted an apocalyptic picture but I don't know of any intelligence assessment that supports it. There is no such intelligence. Nor do I identify a Palestinian interest to act in this direction. They analyze their reality of the past four and a half years as a catastrophe. They murdered 1,042 Israelis but achieved nothing. The Palestinians ask themselves 'How the hell has this happened! How are we now worse off?' They're on the ropes and have lost Jerusalem. Arafat before his death was in shock that we drove them out of Orient House in Jerusalem. The Palestinians thought that their Orient House headquarters enjoyed more immunity than the American embassy. (Israel closed down Orient House after repeated Palestinian suicide bombings).The Palestinians will have to pay for their violence and they will never again get the offer Barak made at Camp David. They'll pay the same way they did after rejecting the partition plan back in 1947. Only if Arab MK Ahmed Tibi becomes Israel's Prime Minister and Arab MK Dahamshe is appointed Israeli Defense Minister will they a similar offer.

Question: And do you believe there will be Palestinians to talk to with such parameters?

Dichter: Certainly. The Palestinians also see reality. They see the disasters they've suffered, Israel's security buffer, the security fence that envelopes Jerusalem and their expulsion from Jerusalem.

Question: So are you, optimistic or pessimistic?

Dichter: I'm optimistic, because we depend upon ourselves and we have the strength to achieve our goals on condition we always utilize our deterrence. The Palestinians view every Israeli concession as a sign of weakness. Israel must insist on the Palestinians honoring all agreements. When Israel made all her concessions in the years after Oslo, the Palestinians perceived this as weakness.

Targeted Killing

Question: Was Israel's targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists an absolute necessity? Do you not have a problem with the State becoming an executioner?

Dichter: No. I want to tell you there is not a week that our security colleagues from around the world do not arrive in Israel to learn how we carry this out. And I'm not talking only about the Americans. This has turned into the most 'sexy' topic in the war against terrorism. Its effectiveness is amazing. The state of Israel has perfected it to an art: to be able to liquidate who cannot be eliminated any other way and without a serious risk to our personnel. And the terrorists have learned there is no place they are safe and they're all being watched. The use of the Israel Air Force made a great difference. It must be understood: a state cannot combat terrorism by sticking to the rules of fair play. A state must act as a state, not like the terrorists sniping at us and we'll snipe back.

Question: Does Hamas view the disengagement as an Israeli capitulation to terror?

Dichter: Not only Hamas, all the Palestinians. It's tough for us on the level of ego, but I think theirs no difference between withdrawing from Gaza and from south Lebanon. A security presence in the Gaza Strip is similar to such a presence in south Lebanon and therefore there is no logic in remaining there. It's basically the same decision with the addition of the settlements. In fact, removing the settlements from Gaza will probably make it easier for the IDF to react if the terrorists do not launch more attacks after the disengagement.

Question: What about Judea & Samaria (West Bank)?

Dichter: There is an opposite situation there; there is a different reality on the ground. It is forbidden to evacuate settlements in Judea and Samaria if this means withdrawing our security forces. It's not important if these forces are stationed in bases or 'on wheels'. In my view there's no difference and that is also our well known position. The IDF must remain in areas where settlements are evacuated on the West Bank.

Question: And to the best of your knowledge, the IDF will evacuate these areas?

Dichter: No. Israel will evacuate only settlements and military bases. We think the IDF must remain there, without the IDF there will be a vacuum that the terror organizations will penetrate.

Question: What of your personal philosophy? Is there room for two states between the Mediterranean and the Jordan?

Dichter: I don't see any other alternative. I also believe that another possibility is not good for us. There will not be the transfer of 3 million Palestinians and not of a million; nor is there any place to transfer them. It is in our own hands to determine our future. The right policies will lead eventually to a solution. I count on us.

David Essing

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