by RAY FLEMING l I HAD made a resolution not to comment further on the Israeli-Palestinian situation until after Israel's election later this month. It is entirely understandable that in the course of a hard-fought election campaign promises and accusations will be made that might not be made in a calmer atmosphere. However yesterday's arbitrary assault on a Palestinian jail by Israeli forces went far beyond what any reasonable person would think permissible even in the course of the most bitterly fought election. I am therefore releasing myself from my self-imposed ban on comment. I am writing as events are still developing, so if anything I say proves to be inaccurate or unfair I will correct it in a future Viewpoint. The facts appear to be these: that American and British monitors in the Jericho jail holding Ahmed Saadat, a Palestinian leader accused of ordering the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister in 2001, abandoned their posts at the prison some twenty minutes before Israeli tanks arrived and proceeded to break down the gates and attempt to arrest Saadat. The only too obvious conclusion is that Britain and the United States colluded with the Isareli government in this raid; if the monitors had remained it would have been difficult for Israel to gain access to the prison by force. In the House of Commons Foreign Secretary Jack Straw denied collusion and said that the monitors had been withdrawn because the Palestinians had been unable to guarantee their safety. The statement by Mahmoud Abbass, the Palestinian president, that “The American and British side bear full responsibility for any harm to the lives of the prisoners, including Ahmed Saadat” shows that Mr Straw's view of the situation is not shared. The violence in the Palestinian streets towards Western people and property that followed the Israeli action also showed how the action is seen there. There are many cross-currents in this affair. But the basic questions are: why did the Israeli government choose this precise moment to attack the prison, if not as an election gesture, and why did Britain and the United States apparently collude with their action? How far was the raid intended as a warning to the democratically elected Hamas party currently trying to form a Palestinian government?