Arafat and his terrorist thugs could be gone in 6 months

Ha'aretz (www.haaretzdaily.com) reports that Israeli Military Intelligence has come to the conclusion that Arafat's days are over. Arafat and his terroristic corrupt administration could be gone in 6 months.

The IDF's General Staff has reached the conclusion that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's stature is dropping so precipitously that there is no need for Israel to push him out of the territories.

This analysis, following President George W. Bush's speech calling for a new, different Palestinian leadership and the opening of Operation Determined Path, has been presented to the political echelon. It says Arafat's prestige has been so damaged that there is no need for action on Israel's part to expel Arafat. A senior military source told Ha'aretz that "chances are increasing that within six months, Arafat's standing will have declined so much that he won't be able to prevent a new, pragmatic leadership from emerging, which will lead the Palestinians to a compromise with Israel." [...]

Not untypically, Newsweek today is quoting Abas Zaki, a member of the Fatah executive and a longtime associate of Yasser Arafat's, as saying that the PA chairman should resign, saying that "when you lose, you must go."

A resident of Halhul, Zaki told the magazine that wherever Arafat went he brought disaster, "corruption and instability."

I copy the full article below.





Arafat will be displaced within 6 months, IDF says
By Amos Harel, Aluf Benn and Daniel Sobelman
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/
pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=184181&contrassID=2&
subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0


The IDF's General Staff has reached the conclusion that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's stature is dropping so precipitously that there is no need for Israel to push him out of the territories.

This analysis, following President George W. Bush's speech calling for a new, different Palestinian leadership and the opening of Operation Determined Path, has been presented to the political echelon. It says Arafat's prestige has been so damaged that there is no need for action on Israel's part to expel Arafat. A senior military source told Ha'aretz that "chances are increasing that within six months, Arafat's standing will have declined so much that he won't be able to prevent a new, pragmatic leadership from emerging, which will lead the Palestinians to a compromise with Israel."

Arafat yesterday fired Tawfik Tirawi, head of General Intelligence in the West Bank, said reports from Ramallah. According to the reports, Tirawi will be replaced by Samah Abdel Majid. Officers in the General Intelligence service confirmed Tirawi was fired, but Tirawi himself said he was not fired. "To my regret, there are people at the top of the PA who do not refrain from using any means, including spreading disinformation, and because of them I had to give up my job," said Tirawi.

In the months leading up to the Bush speech, the defense establishment pressed for Arafat's expulsion. The Israel Defense Forces' Planning Division added its support in March, as a wave of terror bombings swept through the country, leading up to Operation Defensive Shield. Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, who hands over his office to Moshe Ya'alon tomorrow in a Jerusalem ceremony, said this weekend in farewell newspaper interviews that he was in favor of expulsion. "Nobody in Washington will shed a tear if we send Arafat out of the area," he told Ma'ariv.

But now a different view is gaining the upper hand, coming out of Military Intelligence, and Planning, that it would be best to let the process take place on its own. One source said that "Bush's speech caused a drastic drop in Arafat's stature. The Arab states and European Union supported the Bush speech. That means the world is behind Bush's delegitimization of Arafat. With the chairman's power dropping so precipitously, pushed by so many forces, it wouldn't be right for us to expel him ourselves. It would be viewed as a distortion of the American line," according to which things are supposed to happen gradually by themselves, as a result of the administration's boycott of Arafat.

Israeli "tolerance" of Arafat's presence in the area is of course dependent on the IDF's success at keeping the number of Israeli casualties low. So far, that's been accomplished by the IDF presence in the Palestinian cities and towns, which are mostly under curfew. A wave of terror or a particularly large attack could change the situation.

Israel, say sources in the General Staff, has to be careful of "Kahane or Kana," a reference to either a Jewish terror attack on Arabs or a mistake by the security forces, including the IDF, resulting in many Palestinian casualties. By keeping Israeli casualties at a "tolerable" level, along with a relative consensus about the justification of the current operation, Israeli society can get the breathing room to continue the operation and wait for developments on the Palestinian side, meaning Arafat's departure from the stage.

The IDF says it is seeing cracks in Palestinian society and its leadership since Operation Defensive Shield. The Palestinian debate about reforms has become ever more serious, especially after the Bush speech. Not untypically, Newsweek today is quoting Abas Zaki, a member of the Fatah executive and a longtime associate of Yasser Arafat's, as saying that the PA chairman should resign, saying that "when you lose, you must go."

A resident of Halhul, Zaki told the magazine that wherever Arafat went he brought disaster, "corruption and instability."

An American offensive against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which the IDF regards as inevitable, could undermine the power of many of the extremists in the Middle East and lead to a political process.

The Arab world, says a senior source, "has moved from supporting Arafat to protecting him. The Arab leaders will try to protect his honor, to make sure his departure from the political stage is done honorably." Israel, however, doubts Arafat will accept a symbolic role. The U.S. agrees. A senior American official recently told his Israeli interlocutors that "we don't know how to turn Arafat into the Queen Mother - and neither do you."

Meanwhile, there is satisfaction in the defense establishment with the course of Operation Determined Path. In less than three weeks, 600 Palestinians, including 15 wanted men and nearly a dozen who were planning suicide attacks, have been arrested. The terror groups now have the problem of how to equip a bomber, and how to smuggle him into Israel. For the first time, there are more potential bombers than explosives - but motivation for becoming a bomber has not declined at all.

Israel is prepared for the possibility that the Palestinian Authority might tell the local Palestinian authorities not to cooperate with the IDF, for providing civil arrangements for the population. But the assessment is that Arafat would have difficulty with such a move.

"To poke us in the eye," said one source, "they'd have to poke out both their eyes. And that's not reasonable." In recent weeks, some contacts have been made with local authorities, like governors and mayors, and the Civil Administration officials in the West Bank, mostly for problem solving.

Meanwhile, the government says Israel will not reestablish the IDF's Civil Administration and take over such matters as running the schools or hospitals.

Egyptian involvement

Omar Suleiman, head of the Egyptian intelligence services, visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority yesterday, meeting with the top political echelon on both sides. Cairo is worried by growing anarchy on the Palestinian side, concerned that instead of the gradual reforms that were planned by Egypt, Arafat's weakness is becoming more evident.

According to a source close to the Cairo government, the Egyptians were not pleased by Jibril Rajoub's purge from the head of the Preventive Security Service, regarding Rajoub as a stabilizing factor. Egypt reached agreement with Israel and the U.S. that Cairo would get deeply involved in reorganization of the Palestinian security services, and Suleiman's visit yesterday - one of several he has made in the last few months - was a sign of that growing involvement.

Accompanied by Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, Suleiman met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President Moshe Katsav, Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, telling them all that the Palestinians have to be offered some "hope," and that Arafat can still be used to achieve the reform goals, so he should not be fought. After his meetings with the Israelis he met with Arafat and told him bluntly that he must do more to combat terrorism, and step up the pace of the reforms.

From the Israelis, Suleiman heard a uniform message that only with Arafat gone and an end to the terror, is there hope of a pragmatic Palestinian leadership stepping in for negotiations with Israel.

Suleiman brought Sharon a letter from Hosni Mubarak and the prime minister sent back a letter to the Egyptian president.

Posted by David Melle
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