- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Extradition sought

Eight leading Jewish organizations are calling on the United States to seek the extradition of a Palestinian suspected in the killing of three Americans.

The groups have called on President Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and the Israeli Embassy in Washington to help bring Mahmoud Abu Hanoud before American justice.

Abu Hanoud surrendered Sunday and is being held by the Palestinian Authority following a weekend shootout that led to the deaths of three Israeli soldiers.

Abu Hanoud is wanted in Israel "on terrorism charges," said Israeli Embassy spokesman Marc Regev.

He is the suspected mastermind behind two bombings in Jerusalem in 1997. Americans Leah Stern and Yael Botwin were killed in those bombings. David Boim, killed in a 1996 drive-by shooting in Israel, is the third American whose death is linked to Abu Hanoud.

Mr. Regev said Israel is seeking his transfer from the Palestinian Authority and would consider a U.S. request for his extradition under a U.S.-Israeli extradition treaty.

"We are troubled by the likelihood that Abu Hanoud, who is now in the custody of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, will not receive an appropriate punishment," said a statement released yesterday by the groups, which are members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

They noted that Mrs. Albright has complained of the Palestinians' "revolving door" justice because, as they said, "terrorists detained by the [Palestinian Authority] are routinely set free or given extremely lenient sentences."

"We recall the recent statement by David Levy, then Israel's foreign minister, that 'the high incidence of supposed jailbreaks by dangerous prisoners' from [Palestinian] prisons is in fact just a means of the Palestinian Authority releasing Hamas activists from jail,' " they said, referring to the Palestinian Hamas terrorist group.

They added that Mr. Clinton wrote to the conference last week, "pledging to do everything he can to bring Palestinian Arab killers of Americans to justice."

"The detention of Mahmoud Abu Hanoud provides the United States with an opportunity to ensure that a suspected killer of Americans receives American justice," they said.

They argued that the lack of an extradition treaty with the Palestinian Authority should not block his transfer to the United States.

The United States "frequently arranges for the transfer of criminal suspects from around the world outside normal extradition channels," they said.

The statement was signed by Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America; Leon Levy, past chairman of the conference and president of the American Sephardi Federation; Shlomo Mostofsky, president of the National Council of Young Israel; Marcia Genuth, president of Emunah of America; Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, president of Poalei Agudath Israel; and the Jewish War Veterans of the USA. A separate letter was sent by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

More money for Bosnia

The United States is increasing financial aid to help Bosnia resettle refugees, U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Thomas Miller said yesterday.

Mr. Miller told a press conference that the United States will raise its funding to $75.1 million, up from the $70 million now allocated for this year.

He also said the United States will not tolerate any interference in the repatriation of the estimated 1 million refugees from the 1992-95 ethnic war in Bosnia.

"We will continue, we will absolutely continue to offer our full support to minority returns despite the violence we see," he said, speaking in Sarajevo.

"And obstructionists who are trying to burn down houses in Srebrenica or in Janja will not be allowed to continue that kind of obstructionism," he said, referring to two Serbian-held towns in eastern Bosnia where some Muslims have been harassed since returning.

The funds will be distributed through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Community Reintegration and Stabilization Program, Mr. Miller said.

The money will help fund reconstruction programs for electricity, sewage and water systems and for schools.

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