Arafat deliberately caused the death of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians

The Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council (www.aijac.org.au) has published an excellent article by Ehud Ya'ari that explains how Arafat allowed the murderers from Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, Tanzim and other Palestinian terrorist groups to organize and execute suicide bombings and other attacks since October 2000. This has resulted in the death of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians in the last 22 months.

The chaotic situation today [in the West Bank and Gaza] was consciously, deliberately, and intentionally introduced by Chairman Arafat, though it has extended beyond the time frame he originally conceived. I describe his actions as a willing suspension of control, first exercised on the night of September 28, 2000, when he issued the orders and instructions to his political leadership and the different commanders of the security agencies to embark upon this endeavour. The order for the formal security forces was to stick to the sidelines and allow the irregulars – what later came to be known as the national and Islamic forces, an alliance of Tanzim, Hamas, Jihad, and the Fronts – to do the job. [...]

A basic tenet of the Oslo accord was the assumption that the Palestinian partner, Arafat, was/is interested in a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, at peace with Israel. It was never Arafat’s intention to end his political career as the president of a mini-Palestinian state, which he sees as a sovereign cage. I don’t know anyone from Arafat’s closest entourage who believes in this.

Arafat has a strategy dedicated to the Palestinian cause, not to the Palestinian people, and Palestinians know it. He is locked onto the objective; everything that serves that objective is fine. Agreement with Israel? Twice a day, no problem, as long as he does not have to become the undertaker of what he sees as basic, legitimate Palestinian rights. A deal with Israel, yes. An end to conflict, never. [...]

Thus, without a popular component, to quote a very important Palestinian friend of mine, "The intifada has committed suicide through suicide bombings."

The Palestinian "right of return" is the central issue. A mini-state is not the central issue and it never was. You will not find a Palestinian leadership that will be willing to accept any of the formulas currently being discussed as a solution to this problem. The Palestinian national movement is about the right of return; it is not about the West Bank and Gaza. Israel will have to be more flexible, not in the sense of allowing more refugees, but in the sense of arriving at a more vague and creative formula that allows for a long period of time to deal with this issue.

Ehud Ya'ari is a commentator on Middle East affairs on Israeli TV. I always thought his comments were right on the money, and this article is not an exception - please read it. I found the link to this article on "Not a Fish" - thanks Imshin!

I copy the full article below.





Arafat's Quasi-Intifada
Behind the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation
By Ehud Ya'ari, August 2002
http://www.aijac.org.au/review/
2002/278/yaari278.html

The chaotic situation today [in the West Bank and Gaza] was consciously, deliberately, and intentionally introduced by Chairman Arafat, though it has extended beyond the time frame he originally conceived. I describe his actions as a willing suspension of control, first exercised on the night of September 28, 2000, when he issued the orders and instructions to his political leadership and the different commanders of the security agencies to embark upon this endeavour. The order for the formal security forces was to stick to the sidelines and allow the irregulars – what later came to be known as the national and Islamic forces, an alliance of Tanzim, Hamas, Jihad, and the Fronts – to do the job.

This chaotic situation at the outset was intended to create the false impression that this quasi-intifada was some sort of replay of the first intifada – an eruption of popular resentment – and not a direct challenge to Israel by the PA led by Chairman Arafat.

The United Palestinian Emirates

I call the situation "intifouda," "fouda" in Arabic meaning anarchy, and many Palestinians agree with this description. The situation has turned the areas under Palestinian control into something more resembling the United Palestinian Emirates.

One of the major concepts of Oslo was that at the end of the road there would be a strong, centralised Palestinian authority/government. Somebody very strong was supposed to be controlling the Palestinian areas and making sure there was no terrorism. This concept is gone and will not be returning for a long time. What we have now is the diversion of authority and power from the central government into the different districts. Therefore, from now on, we will have coalitions forming on the ground, and they are already forming very rapidly, with a leadership that will at one point replace Arafat.

We are heading towards a system in the territories which will have at least two, but probably up to four or more, undeclared principalities, each controlled, as they are now, by a different local coalition, each cooperating in different degrees with the coalitions in the other areas. A central government is going to shape up, once we hopefully reach the exit to this intifada, and it is going to look much different from what was originally conceived in Oslo.

No Mini-State at Peace with Israel

A basic tenet of the Oslo accord was the assumption that the Palestinian partner, Arafat, was/is interested in a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, at peace with Israel. It was never Arafat’s intention to end his political career as the president of a mini-Palestinian state, which he sees as a sovereign cage. I don’t know anyone from Arafat’s closest entourage who believes in this.

The main fault in the Oslo Agreement was not the concept of seeing Israel’s strategic interest, as I do, in the creation of a Palestinian state. The main fault of Oslo was in assuming it was indispensable, as they thought at the time, to start the process by bringing in seven brigades of the Fatah and the PA Liberation Army and having Arafat on the scene right from the start.

Three scenes sum up the problem. The first is during the summer of 1993 when Rabin sends his own men to Oslo. Joel Singer, the attorney, tells Abu Ala that Arafat is to get Gaza and Jericho, a crucial foothold in the West Bank. Abu Ala calls Arafat in Tunis and Arafat says to a few people around him, "We have a deal."

Twenty years earlier, Arafat had entered Lebanon according to the Cairo agreement with the Lebanese chief of staff, General Bustani, which allowed the PLO to have some armed personnel in the refugee camps and on the slopes of Mt. Hermon – a very limited agreement. Arafat said, "We entered Lebanon through that crack in the wall, the Cairo agreement, and I ended up as Governor-General of Beirut." Arafat continued: "We are entering Palestine through this crack in the wall, Gaza-Jericho, and we will see where it leads."

The second scene is of Arafat arriving in peace and euphoria for the start of the implementation of Oslo. He comes to Rafah terminal in Gaza, and a young Israeli soldier turns to another and says: "Gee, I didn’t know Arafat was so tall." Arafat arrived in a Mercedes and his kaffiyeh was scraping the ceiling of the car. You have to be an NBA player for that to happen. It turned out that Arafat was sitting on somebody whom he was smuggling in – Jihad Amarin – and Mamduh Nofal, the former military commander of the Democratic Front, was hiding in the trunk. They also had a few Kalashnikov rifles and night-vision equipment in the car.

The third scene is more recent. A senior European, who is very close to Arafat and regarded by the Palestinians as a friend, visited the chairman and said to him: "You have had hundreds of casualties by now. If you allow this to go on, there will be many more. Isn’t it a shame?" Arafat replied: "They are all martyrs." In other words, "We can take it."

This sequence tells a story that is much more powerful than any expectations we might have had. Politically, I grew up in the Labor Party, but I did not believe for a fleeting moment that there was a chance that Arafat would perceive Oslo in the sense that it was perceived by many Israelis.

Arafat has a strategy dedicated to the Palestinian cause, not to the Palestinian people, and Palestinians know it. He is locked onto the objective; everything that serves that objective is fine. Agreement with Israel? Twice a day, no problem, as long as he does not have to become the undertaker of what he sees as basic, legitimate Palestinian rights. A deal with Israel, yes. An end to conflict, never.

Relations with Hamas

Arafat does not see Hamas as a rival or as an adversary. He never did. For Arafat, Hamas is a partner, which he keeps as a junior partner. Arafat’s legacy is the combined structure that he allowed to emerge during the intifada, an informal alliance, and now formal, among his own Fatah faction, Hamas, and the rest.

Arafat’s most recent speeches reflect how deeply versed he is in Islamic tradition. Arafat grew up in the Moslem Brotherhood. He was expelled from Egypt by President Nasser in 1957 as a Moslem Brotherhood activist, together with the late Abu Jihad. It is this combination of his brand of nationalism and Islamic nationalism that he allowed to become the political culture of the PA during the intifada. Therefore, on the face of it, tensions between the different segments of society have been reduced.

I believe that once we move toward an exit from the intifada, we will see a dramatic reduction in the popularity of Hamas, in their room to manoeuvre, in the way they conduct themselves. I do not see a situation where Hamas will opt for a clash, for a confrontation with the Palestinian Authority, whoever is on top. They will challenge policies and try to force their agenda, of course, but they will not try to topple the Palestinian Authority itself.

Failures of the Quasi-Intifada

I would describe what happened after Arafat issued his instructions on the night of September 28, 2000, as a "quasi-intifada" because in many ways it lacks a popular dimension. It remains the effort of certain mobilised groups and has not become a popular uprising. For example, the Palestinian countryside, with 300 villages in the West Bank, is suffering badly but has not really become a part of it. Had they done so in the same way they did in the first intifada a decade ago, the situation of Israeli settlers and movement on the roads in the West Bank would be entirely different than it is today.

The Jerusalem region, with 300,000 Arabs, has not offered one good day of intifada since September 2000. Almost all of the incidents in the city came from either Ramallah or Bethlehem.

The student body, tens of thousands of Palestinians in colleges and universities, has largely stayed out of the current intifada, except for those in the chemical laboratory of Najah University trying to produce explosives.

Arafat had also hoped to ignite the situation and create some sort of bloodbath in the territories that would spill over into the Arab world. There is bitterness in Arafat’s circle about how the Egyptians, the Jordanians, and even the Syrians have conducted themselves. President Mubarak appeared on the popular television show "Good Morning Egypt" to say that "no one – read Arafat – will be allowed to fight to the last Egyptian soldier."

Thus, without a popular component, to quote a very important Palestinian friend of mine, "The intifada has committed suicide through suicide bombings."

The Central Issue

The Palestinian "right of return" is the central issue. A mini-state is not the central issue and it never was. You will not find a Palestinian leadership that will be willing to accept any of the formulas currently being discussed as a solution to this problem. The Palestinian national movement is about the right of return; it is not about the West Bank and Gaza. Israel will have to be more flexible, not in the sense of allowing more refugees, but in the sense of arriving at a more vague and creative formula that allows for a long period of time to deal with this issue.

This is the moment that an Israeli government should add some political offer to whatever is being done militarily. A good formula would be to say that Israel is willing to go back to the "gates of Camp David," knowing and emphasising that we have a different narrative about what has happened and that there are consequences to the developments of the two years that have passed since our delegations left Camp David.

At the end of the day, it is crucial to explain to both the Israeli and Palestinian publics, and sooner rather than later, that we are talking about a two-state concept. But what does a two-state solution mean? According to my reading, it means two governments in the same country. We are mixed together with each other; hence, the importance of very close cooperation.

This war is only about one issue. It is not about settlements. It was never about occupation. It is about whether the Palestinian state is going to be born in peace and for peace, or whether it will be some sort of runaway state that is allowed to come into being without resolving the conflict with Israel, in order to maintain a state of fluctuating hostility.

Ehud Ya’ari serves as the Middle East commentator for Israel’s Channel 2 Television. An associate editor of the Jerusalem Report, Ya’ari is the author of eight books on the Arab-Israeli conflict. This article is based on a presentation to the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem on June 17, 2002. © The Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs.
Posted by David Melle
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