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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 November, 2003, 17:17 GMT
Fatah denies militant 'funding'
Members of the militant al-Aqsa group
Al-Aqsa militants have not declared a formal ceasefire
A top official from Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction has denied that the Palestinian Authority pays money to stop armed militants attacking Israel.

A BBC report quoted a former Palestinian minister saying the PA sends $50,000 a month to members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

But Fatah's Hatem Abdel-Qader said the claim by the ex-minister Abdel Fattah Hamayel was "baseless and untrue".

"Fatah does not recognise them and has tried to dismantle the group," he said.

Baseless and untrue

"The finance ministry has no mandate to give the Brigades money and nor does Fatah," he told Reuters news agency.

"What Abdul Fattah Hamayel is claiming is baseless and untrue. Perhaps he was misquoted."

An Israeli official also dismissed the report by the BBC's Correspondent programme, to be shown on 9 November.

"In our experience... the Palestinian Authority funds terrorist attacks," the official, Avi Pazner was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"The Brigades is directly subject to Arafat's authority, and therefore all he needs to do is order it to stop its terrorism if that is what the Palestinian Authority really wants," Mr Pazner added.

'Living expenses'

The Correspondent programme said that during its investigation it learned that the policy of paying the money was not instigated by Mr Arafat but had been carried out with his knowledge and agreement.

Mr Hamayel, who was minister for sports and youth in the government led by former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, told the programme that he implemented the policy of paying what he described as living expenses to the gunmen.

"Originally, some people in these groups had been chosen to work for the security services, so they were getting salaries and still are doing so," he told Correspondent.

Despite the payments, the al-Aqsa group has not declared a formal ceasefire and Mr Arafat has not asked the group to stop suicide bombings, according to an al-Aqsa leader interviewed by Correspondent.

Close links between Mr Arafat's Fatah and al-Aqsa were also discovered by the programme.

Correspondent: Arafat Investigated was broadcast in the UK on BBC Two at 1915GMT on Sunday, 9 November.

Immediately after the programme, Jeremy answered your questions in a live forum.





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