The AP report says it has confirmation of the closed-door session, and says Zahar declined to deny them. It says other Hamas leaders refused to discuss the statements on the record, and several privately expressed displeasure but did not deny them. Zahar's statement were made Tuesday - the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 28, 2000, eruption of violence that became known as the second intifada.
A far more reliable source, the Jerusalem Post's peerless Khaled Abu Toameh, writes that this is the first time a senior Hamas source has conceded that some of the suicide-bombing murders carried out by its agents during the second intifada, which erupted 10 years ago, were ordered by Arafat. Until now, it was widely believed that Arafat had only ordered his Fatah militiamen to carry out terror attacks on Israel.
Some additional light in an AFP report today:
"Arafat had always insisted that the uprising was a spontaneous reaction to the Israeli occupation and that he had no control over Hamas, the long-time rivals of his secular Fatah movement. He publicly condemned attacks targeting civilians inside Israel, including those carried out by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah."But since his death, Arafat's acolytes have been quite open about his central role in the terrorism for which "Palestinian" has become a by-word:
Back in Abu Amar's day [Yasser Arafat's nom de guerre], we had a plan, there was a strategy, and we would carry his orders...Everything that was done in the intifada was done according to Arafat's instructions...That's from a candid statement by the head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorists in an interview carried in Ha'aretz on April 4, 2008.
Public condemnations of terrorism by Palestinian Arab leaders up to their armpits themselves in acts of terrorism have been, and continue to be, a constant in this ongoing war. The straight-faced denials ("totally opposed to violence, even against the Zionists") have always served to persuade those (journalists, diplomats) who wanted/want desperately to be persuaded.
So long as this see-no-evil, hear-no-evil idiocy continues, public opinion will remain as bamboozled as it is today globally about terrorism and how to deal with it. And we all pay a steep price for that.