The hostage crisis in EntebbePosted: June 2, 2007
The Israeli secret service and radical Palestinians may have engineered the hijacking of an Air France plane that flew to Entebbe in Uganda, according to a claim in newly released government documents. This extraordinary interpretation on the Entebbe raid was cited by a British diplomat, DH Colvin of the Paris embassy, in June 30 1976 as the world was transfixed by the hostage crisis in Entebbe, which features in the recent film The Last King of Scotland. In a document released by the National Archives, Mr Colvin, citing an unnamed contact at the Euro-Arab parliamentary association, wrote: “According to his information, the hijack was the work of the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine], with help from the Israeli secret service, the Shin Beit.”
Describing the collaboration as an unholy alliance, he went on: “The operation was designed to torpedo the PLO’s [Palestine Liberation Organisation] standing in France and to prevent what they see as a growing rapprochement between the PLO and the Americans. “Their nightmare is that after the November elections, one will witness the imposition in the Middle East of a Pax Americana, which will be the advantage of the PLO (who will gain international respectability and perhaps the right to establish a state on evacuated territories) and to the disadvantage of the Refusal Front (who will be squeezed right out in any overall peace settlement and will lose their raison d’etre) and Israel (who will be forced to evacuate occupied territory).”
An extraordinary claim that Israeli intelligence may have had a hand in an airline hijacking before sending in commandos to rescue the hostages at Entebbe was made to the Foreign Office. It came via David Colvin, the first secretary at the British embassy in Paris, according to a newly released National Archives file. He heard it from a contact in the Euro-Arab Parliamentary Association three days after the Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris was seized in mid-air by Palestinians and German terrorists on June 27, 1976.
Mr Colvin told his superiors that his source suggested that the attack was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with help from the Israeli Security Service, the Shin Bet. It was designed to torpedo the rival Palestine Liberation Organisation’s standing in France and to prevent what they saw as a growing rapprochement between the PLO and the Americans.
”My contact said that the PFLP had attracted all sorts of wild elements, some of whom had been planted by the Israelis,” Mr Colvin added. The message was received without comment by the Foreign Office but later officials recorded that a journalist from the Liverpool Post, Leo Murray, had also told them that a splinter group of PFLP was planning a series of spectacular incidents to disrupt contacts between the PLO leader Yasser Arafat and the US. An official noted: ‘If, as Mr Murray’s sources allege, the aim of the Entebbe hijacking was to prevent the development of relations between Arafat and the West, and Arafat knew this, it would provide another motive for Arafat’s recent approach to the French in Cairo warning us of further attacks.”