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Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Je ne se quois: EU to return Palestinian Terrorists

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Nabil Sha`ath says he has a commitment from the EU to return to the territories Palestinians expelled from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem over a year ago, reports Israel Radio.

After a five-week standoff in May 2002, the 123 Palestinian gunmen who had been holed up inside the church were released.

Thirteen Palestinians described by Israel as 'having blood on their hands' were flown on a British military plane to Larnaca in Cyprus, which served as a transit port to six European nations that agreed to accept the fugitives. Twenty-six Palestinians were taken by bus to Gaza City, where they returned to a heroes' welcome. The remaining 84 Palestinians were released to their homes.

Nabil Sha'ath claims that the arrangement reached with the European Union are set to expire after one year.

EU Envoy Miguel Mauratinos then told reporters that the 13 were free men, and not prisoners or deportees. 'I want to underline this point. They are not prisoners or detained people. They have signed on a personal basis an agreement to go to a third country. They came here voluntarily...it was not deportation,' he said.

The 13 men are affiliated with Hamas and Fatah Tanzim and all were allegedly involved in either the planning or perpetrating of numerous terror attacks against Israeli citizens, including the dispatching of terrorists to carry out suicide bomb attacks. JPost