Jerusalem Mayor's Meeting With Islamic Extremists Worries Shin Bet

Meeting in city hall office took place in effort to boost ties with East Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat met last spring with senior Muslim figures, including the brother of the man who shot dead eight students of the city's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in 2008. Other attendees including members of the Palestinian Authority Preventive Security Force and a radical Islamic group that calls for the destruction of Israel.

The meeting took place in June at city hall, in Safra Square. It was arranged by the mayor's office as part of efforts to improve relations with residents of East Jerusalem. Intelligence figures within the Jerusalem District Police and the Shin Bet who learned of the meeting were reportedly deeply concerned about the invitees, some of whom were involved in criminal activities.

barkat - Daniel Bar-On - February 7 2011
Daniel Bar-On

According to information obtained by Haaretz, a detailed assessment of each participant was drawn up and submitted to Jerusalem District Police commander Aharon Franco as well as other senior police officials in the district and other intelligence officials.

According to the report, among the participants was a man from the Abu Dhaim family known as the "mukhtar" and "known to be corrupt. Abu Dhaim's brother was involved in the shooting attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in March 2008, in which eight persons were murdered."

The attack was carried out by one Ala Abu Dhaim of Jabel Mukkaber. He exploited his job driving for an East Jerusalem transportation company owned by his family to reconnoiter for the attack.

Also at the meeting were several Fatah members. They included Hassan Abd al-Qadr of Wadi Joz, a former Orient House employee; Silwan residents Musa and Sa'id Abassi, and Mukhtar Hussein Awisat, termed an "extremist" in the intelligence assessment, who belongs to the Fatah prisoners' committee.

Palestinian intelligence officers at the meeting included Omar Abu Diab of A-Tur and Osama Hamidan of Ras al-Amud.

Also in attendance were members Hizb al-Tahrir, an Islamic extremist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel. The ideology of the international group, which aspires to establish a global caliphate, is similar to that of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

At a joint conference held in March 2007 in Ramallah, on the Temple Mount and in the Gaza Strip, Hizb al-Tahrir leaders [the name means "party of liberation" in Arabic] called on followers to take concerted action to create a single Muslim state, "a Caliphate that follows the path of the prophets that will uproot the Jewish entity and restore all of Palestine to the countries of Islam without negotiations or compromise."

The intelligence report gave the names of two of the group's supporters, Dr. Tawfiq Hisasna and Ziad Abdu, as attending the meeting with the mayor.

Three months ago, Nir Barkat hired Middle East specialist David Koren as a part-time advisor on Arab affairs.

The municipality said in a response: "Mayor Nir Barkat holds periodic meetings and brainstorming sessions with representatives of the neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city in an effort to improve the quality of life and narrow the gaps, in addition to visits to educational institutions, and personal meetings to hear about the needs of the public and to provide solutions to various problems ... The municipality does not vet participants in advance, and the only subject on the agenda is to improve neighborhood affairs ... The municipality is not a security or intelligence agency and has no information about the membership in various groups [of participants.]" City Council member Didi Hershkovitz (Yerushalayim Beiteinu ) said in a statement: "New planning in the eastern part of the city is high on the municipality's agenda, but there is no new planning without enforcement. It is unfortunate that the security organizations do not examine those persons who sit down with the number-one figure in Jerusalem. This is a mistake that should not recur," Hershkovitz said.