Thursday, January 03, 2019

By Daled Amos

We know that Jordan has failed to extradite the Hamas terrorist Ahlam Tamimi -- the mastermind of the Sbarro massacre -- to the US, despite an extradition treaty that Jordan has honored in the past.

But is the problem just that  Jordan refuses to honor its treaties, or is there more to it? Could the US be trying harder and applying more pressure on Jordan if it wanted to?

Just compare the example of Jordan to the US failure to pursue Americans murdered by Palestinian terrorists.

Stephen Flatow, whose daughter was murdered by Palestinian terrorists, questions the apparent immunity Palestinian terrorists have from prosecution. It was one thing when the PLO terrorist entity was in charge -- the US had no leverage to demand that terrorists be handed over. But after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and the Palestinian Authority was in charge, there was an actual political entity with which the US formed a relationship.

True, the US has never had an extradition treaty with the Palestinians, but there is still another option:
Either because of U.S. pressure, or because of a general desire to have friendly relations with the U.S., governments frequently agree to “rendition”—that is, to voluntarily hand over terrorists for prosecution in America.
Rendition is so much easier than extradition that Mexico, which does have an extradition treaty with the US, often uses rendition instead.

And yet the US government consistently resists the idea of utilizing this option.

According to Flatow, the US is so reluctant to press for the rendition of Palestinian murderers of US citizens, that it has failed to take advantage of bonafide opportunities. A prime example is Mohammed Abbas, the mastermind in 1985 of the hijacking of the Achille Lauro that resulted in the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, who remained free for years. Over time, Abbas lived in countries from which the US could have demanded extradition, but did not take action. The excuse used was the statute of limitations, despite the fact there is no limitation on murder; the US claimed that Abbas was wanted for hijacking, not murder. In 2003, he was captured by American forces in Iraq while he attempted to escape to Syria. He died in US custody in 2004, the day before he was supposed to be handed over to Italy.

Flatow believes the reason for the failure of the US to pursue Palestinian terrorists who have murdered US citizens over the years boils down to the "fetid swamp of political convenience." Over the years, US administrations have been fixated on the Holy Grail of Middle East peace, and opted for 'the greater good' of having friendly relations with the Palestinians rather than pursue justice for murdered Americans:
Putting a Palestinian terrorist on trial in America would infuriate the PA, which would defend the terrorist as a “hero” and a “martyr.” That would sour America’s relations with the PA, reveal that the PA’s view of terrorists has never changed, and undermine American public sympathy for Palestinian statehood.
This held true during the administrations of Clinton, Bush and Obama.

What about Trump?

photo
President Trump. Public Domain

Watching Trump praise Jordan for its role in fighting terrorism -- while it plays host to the terrorist Ahlam Tamimi -- is a familiar scenario. Foreign policy concerns seem once again to take a priority over justice. The US has an extradition treaty with Jordan and has asked Jordan to turn her over. The US has even posted a reward for her capture, but has stopped short of applying pressure.

On the other hand, Trump has taken steps beyond anything his predecessors have done in applying strong financial pressure on Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.

It could be that he is willing to apply pressure to get things done.

But it could also be that Trump has decided to apply pressure on the Palestinians instead of aid in order to facilitate his version of a Middle East peace -- but will continue to coddle Jordan for the old familiar reasons.




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