July 23, 2004
LAWLESS IN GAZA:
'REFORM IS NECESSARY' TO END 'CRONYISM'
** Arafat and his
"corrupt clique" are the "crux of the problem."
reforms" are the only way out of the "current crisis."
** Arab nationalist dailies
accuse "Israeli agents" of provoking the chaos.
** There is "fertile
soil for a climate of civil war."
'Arafat should quit his position'-- Global papers judged the Gaza unrest proof of
Palestinian anger towards Arafat, whose "cronyism and corruption"
have left him "more and more isolated." Arafat, said Lebanon's moderate Daily Star,
"increasingly lacks credibility and legitimacy," and his
"corrupt little empire" has become the "single greatest
obstacle" to an independent Palestine.
London's pan-Arab Al-Sharq Al-Awsat advised Arafat to
"tender his resignation" so that a new Palestinian leader who sees
the "difference between nationalism and nation-building" can
emerge. A few writers insisted Arafat's
role is not "directly threatened"; Austria's liberal Der Standard
predicted Arafat "is likely to survive this crisis."
'Reform is necessary' to replace the PA's 'symbolic and sham
government'-- Accusing Arafat of
"deliberately holding back reform," outlets agreed that "much
must drastically change" to transform the PA from the "plaything of
an aging autocrat" to a "body involved in state-building." Jordan's center-left Al-Dustour held
that the PA's "path to freedom and independence" must include
"political, security, financial and administrative reform." Notably, Palestinian writers also backed a
"reformist vision of the present Palestinian political system." Independent Al-Ayyam declared,
"No one accepts the argument that Palestinian reform is an American-European
demand that should be rejected."
Israel is 'undermining' Arafat's authority 'through indirect
blows'-- Hardline Muslim
observers blamed "Israeli sabotage" for the unrest in Gaza. Saudi Arabia's conservative Al-Nadwa
opined that Israel was "publicly planning to create tension" among
Palestinians to "ignite the spark of civil war." Other papers, including Beirut's nationalist As-Safir,
said "foreign parties...incited some national forces...to rebel"
against Arafat to "force him to make concessions." Non-Arab writers alleged that Israel "has
done everything to bring about the collapse of the PA." France's right-of-center Le Figaro
accused Sharon of seeking "the creation of a string of
principalities: Gaza, Ramallah,
Jenin" instead of a Palestinian state.
The 'Iraqization of the Palestinians'-- "Chaos and lawlessness" in the PA led
media to see a possible "miniature civil war in Gaza." Several dailies said the anarchy stemmed from
a "competition for power" in Gaza ahead of the Israeli withdrawal, with
many warning that "Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other terrorist groups might
seize control." Israel's
left-leaning Ha'aretz warned of a "complete collapse" of the
PA's institutions not just in Gaza, but in the entire PA, which could
facilitate a "destructive civil war."
Russia's reformist Izvestiya concluded the violence was a
"dress rehearsal for political processes in post-Arafat Palestine."
Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press
sentiment. Posts select commentary to
provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. This report summarizes and interprets foreign
editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.
Government. This analysis was based on
91 reports from 30 countries over 18 - 23 July 2004. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
BRITAIN: "Mr. Arafat
Must Not Ignore The Dissent In Gaza"
An editorial in the center-left Independent read
(7/20): "The gravest challenge of
his political career, since it comes from many of the core supporters he has
alienated.... Even Mr. Arafat, for all
his stubbornness, must recognize that it is in Palestinian interests to show
that the Palestinian Authority is the government of a state-in-waiting, not the
plaything of an aging autocrat."
"Turmoil In Gaza"
The conservative Times opined (7/20): "Mr. Arafat's cynicism has now run its
course, however, and stoked the present conflict. Civil war in Gaza is in the interests of no
one--and certainly not of Israel, whatever the short-term calculation that this
would reduce international pressure and the flow of suicide bombers. Mr. Qureia (prime minister) should remain at
his post and try to pull his fellow Palestinians back from the brink."
"Only One Way Forward"
The left-of-center Guardian stated (7/20): "To blame Israel for encouraging Mr.
Arafat's worst tendencies will only serve as an excuse for his continuing
failure to reform.... Division will lead
to more terror. Israel must offer more
incentives for moderation.... Real
commitment to reform by Mr. Arafat, an unqualified pledge to end the Israeli
occupation, and the mutual renunciation of violence, are the only way."
"For The First Time, The Pressure Is From Within"
Chris McGreal wrote in the left-of-center Guardian
(7/19): “Yasser Arafat has spent months
staving off pressure to surrender some of his power, particularly control over
the Palestinian security forces, to those who might make better use of
it.... Mr Arafat now faces a potentially
much tougher challenge to his overarching control--from internal Palestinian
rivalries. Bitterness, fear and
desperation have bubbled to the surface in the Gaza Strip, producing what some
Palestinian commentators are describing as a mutiny that challenges Mr Arafat's
web of control, if not his position as leader.
Several days of chaos have been marked by kidnappings, open threats to
some in the Palestinian leadership for their corruption, and mass protests.... Amid growing frustration at what Mr Arafat's
critics describe as his greater interest in retaining political control than
alleviating Palestinian suffering and confronting Israeli plans to annex large
parts of the West Bank...the immediate confrontation was a battle between
reformers and the old guard within the Palestine Liberation Organisation. But he said the challenge had been prompted
by the competition for power in Gaza ahead of the Israeli withdrawal of Jewish
settlers next year, and deep disillusionment at the corruption and incompetence
of the Palestinian Authority under Mr Arafat's control."
"Clueless In Gaza"
The conservative Daily Telegraph opined
(7/19): "An Israeli's place, it
seems, is in the wrong. For decades, bien-pensant opinion has been demanding
that Israel pull out of the Occupied Territories. Earlier this year, to general surprise, Ariel
Sharon announced an unconditional withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The result
has been a miniature civil war in Gaza....
Israel is still, technically, the occupying power, with the legal
responsibilities that that status brings. But the impending evacuation has made
the people of Gaza think seriously about how they wish to be governed. And it is clear that they are less than
enthusiastic about Yasser Arafat....
Arafat may have heroic status in the eyes of many Arabs, but his
administration has been mired from the first in corruption and nepotism. By any measure, he has failed to deliver good
governance to his people.... Four years
ago...he was offered sovereignty over the whole of Gaza, almost all the West
Bank and much of Jerusalem. He rejected the proposal, and instead launched a
second Palestinian uprising. This has
brought death and suffering to Israel; but for Palestinians, it has been a
catastrophe.... This newspaper has long
favoured a two-state solution, which would allow Israelis and Palestinians to
live alongside each other behind secure borders. It is becoming increasingly
clear that, as long as Mr Arafat retains his baleful influence, no such
solution is possible. Israel has done
everything it can to marginalise the old warhorse, short of assassination or
forced exile. Now, perhaps, the Palestinians will succeed where the Israelis
have failed, and sideline the man who has proved the single greatest obstacle
Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (7/21): “If Arafat does not succeed in finding a
solution quickly, he will only have two options left: to confront his
rivals...or to change and make compromises that may not bring him out of his
physical and political isolation but without which his resurrection seems
improbable. He needs to prove once again that he is valuable to his people in
his role as a symbol of the fight for his nation’s freedom.”
"One Battle Too Many"
Dominique Gerbaud wrote in Catholic La Croix (7/19): “Arafat has locked himself inside a closed
and narrow group which is increasingly becoming more aggressive.... This is a major headache for all those who
support the Palestinians’ cause and who see that this old timer...is not
listening to the appeals of his most reasonable friends.... A real leader should be preoccupied with
training someone to take over. But with Arafat, it is exactly the opposite. The
countries that support him are in a quandary and do not know how to explain to
him that he must change his attitude. As the expert strategist that he is, he
never misses an opportunity to invite foreign dignitaries traveling in the
region to prove to the world, and before TV cameras, that he has foreign
support. He did this with FM Barnier. Arafat is an elected President who has
been able to unite his people and managed to rein in its impatience. Arafat was
at one time an enlightened man. But he is waging one battle too many. A battle
"Israel’s Wager In Gaza"
Charles Lambroschini noted in right-of-center Le Figaro
(7/19): “Sharon holds all the cards when
it comes to Arafat and his future. But the chaos that has erupted in Gaza could
well turn into a bitter victory....
Sharon is using his old military strategy in politics. Rather than attacking
Arafat from the front, he is undermining the Palestinian leader’s authority
through indirect blows.... Sharon is
very crafty when it comes to exploiting Arafat’s past mistakes...such as his
rejection of the Clinton peace plan....
Sharon is also quick to point out that Arafat, unlike Mandela, was never
able to leave his terrorist past and become a true state leader.... Qurei’s threat of resigning is the only thing
which is forcing Arafat to reform his security police.... But Sharon’s game has its limits: if Arafat
has consistently refused to share his power with his ministers, leading to Abu
Mazen’s resignation and to Qurei’s threatened resignation, it is for a very
simple reason. As long as the U.S. and Sharon continue to advertise that they
will not negotiate with him, Arafat will hold on to his position. Secondly,
Arafat’s successor will not be designated by the Israelis. Israel’s advertised
preference for Ahmed Dahlan is enough to ruin Dahlan’s chances. Sharon does not
want a Palestinian state. He prefers the creation of a string of
principalities: Gaza, Ramallah, Jenin. But Sharon is taking a huge risk. The
Palestinians who will feel frustrated in their hopes for a Palestinian state
will be tempted to fall for an anti-Arafat figure. A young and pure figure, but
an Islamic extremist.”
Mass-circulation, right-of-center tabloid Bild-Zeitung of
Hamburg judged (7/21): "The time of
aging Palestinian leader Arafat will finally and inevitably come to an
end. Now even his own people took to the
streets to protest his corrupt clique.
This must also be a shame for the EU.
It has been an open secret for years that relief funds are disappearing
in dark channels, while Arafat has the considerable assets on various
international bank accounts. And the
European governments did not care about this.... In Berlin, the interest in good contacts with
the Palestinian leadership has got priority over a careful use of taxpayers'
money. And some Israeli critics may now
begin to ponder: Who can seriously
negotiate with the Palestinian leadership that does not even enjoy the trust of
its own population? The chances for a
new beginning in the Middle East will increase only once Arafat is gone."
"Do Not Pin Hopes On Arafat"
Center-right Ostthueringer Zeitung of Gera concluded
(7/21): "Israel wants to withdraw
from the Gaza Strip and make possible a real Palestinian
self-administration. This would be good
news, but the fact that the mere announcement resulted in anarchy does not bode
well. Time will tell whether the
Palestinians will get the situation under control on their own. But we should not pin our hopes on President
Arafat. Long ago, he lost control over
his pampered Kalashnikov fighters, and his inclination for corruption is as
obvious as his political thinking is limited.
Instead of strengthening the autonomous Qureia government, he is
weakening it where he can."
Right-of-center Landeszeitung of Lueneburg said
(7/21): "It is true that history
does not repeat itself, but human behavior does. Palestinian President Arafat currently
appears like a modern copy of Babylon King Belsazar. He saw the writing on the wall, but did not
have the power to change his fate.
Kidnappings out of protest against corruption, anarchy--for Arafat, too,
the writing on the wall indicates the end of his rule.... Now Israel could provoke Arafat's political
end by giving in. If the occupiers
withdraw from the Gaza Strip as announced before, they will leave a power
vacuum in which Hamas, Arafat and parts of his Fatah movement will wrestle for
Wolfgang Guenter Lerch judged in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (7/20): "The planned
Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is making itself felt. The appointment of cousin Musa Arafat, which
Arafat had to cancel in the meantime, showed the Palestinian president the
degree of opposition among his own people....
The dispute will continue. It is
also linked to the hostilities that have built up over the past years between
the Tunisian faction and the ones who stayed at home. In view of the chaos, Prime Minister Qureia
declared his willingness to step down, saying he no longer wants to preside
over such a chaotic situation. Israel's
opposition leader Peres wants to use the unrest in Gaza to speed up the
withdrawal. But Prime Minister Sharon,
who wants to withdraw, must carry out power struggles with his own
supporters: Likud and the
"King Without People"
Peter Muench wrote in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich
(7/20): "Yasser Arafat has become a
king without an empire, and the Israelis are responsible for it, but now he is
even threatening to become a king without people, and he must blame himself for
this development. For a long time,
everyone could see that there was nothing behind his poses--no programs, no
ideas, no visions. Arafat, who has
fought for more than 40 years for Palestine, is burnt out, but he does not want
to accept it. The Palestinians know it,
because they have to pay the price for this.
While he and his fawning courtiers are orchestrating a permanent
liberation struggle, the people live in poverty and do not see a prospect for a
better future or a job.... This is the
fuse and Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza could be the fire that causes
the explosion. The revolt hides the
question who could fill the power vacuum in Gaza which the withdrawing
occupiers will leave.... The lines in
this inner-Palestinian conflict are confusing.
A pre-revolutionary mood is prevailing; the impoverished people are
simply fed up with their corrupt clique of rulers. A power struggle between generations is going
on...and at issue is the future orientation of society: secular or Islamic. It is possible that the final days of
survival artist Yasser Arafat also have begun.
But as desirable as this may be as dangerous it is, for Arafat is under
pressure not only from people who think they can set the world to rights and
from friends of peace, but mainly from radicals. Nobody can say what will be the outcome of
such a power struggle. But on the path
to clarify this question it could easily escalate into a civil war."
Right-of-center Fuldaer Zeitung noted
(7/20): "It is new that the people
are slowly fed up with their leadership and are no longer willing to accept the
bizarre behavior of the fawning courtiers.
Arafat's nepotism is increasingly undermining his personal
authority. The old man with a tendency
to make isolated, fatally wrong decisions is now also forfeiting the rest of
his reputation. Now it could come back
to haunt the Europeans that they only shrug their shoulders and idly watched
the corrupt events in Ramallah and Gaza.
One thing is certain: After
Arafat, the policy of the autonomous administration will radicalize rather than
become more moderate. Then Islamists
could try to gain power--and nobody in the Middle East powder keg can be
interested in such a development."
Erik-Michael Bader said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(7/19): "If a government leader
diagnoses 'chaos' on his territory, the situation must really be bad. The current disintegration and revolt process
in the quasi-Palestinian state must strengthen Israeli politicians in their
view that it is impossible to find an acceptable partner for a co-existence
rule laid down in a treaty. We can only
guess how the path of the Palestinian people to a state under normal
circumstances would have been. Inefficiency, corruption and strong rivalries
would also have existed but probably there would also have be a chance to get
these negative implications under control.
Under existing circumstances, however, the path to rottenness even
before the existence of a state is programmed.
But the current fermentation process could also strengthen the insight
that much must drastically change in the Palestinian leadership circles if the
people still have a chance."
"Arafat Harvesting The Fruit Of Anger"
Thorsten Schmitz stated in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (7/19): "The chaos in the
Gaza Strip gives a bitter foretaste for the time after the withdrawal of the
Israeli forces and Jewish settlers. Ten
years after its birth, the Palestinian autonomous authority is about to
collapse.... Under the care of Yasser
Arafat, corruption and cronyism have become synonyms for an authority, from
which the Palestinians have hardly profited.
Now Arafat is harvesting the fruit of the anger he created. His people are turning to terror groups that
aim at Israel's destruction.... Instead
of feeding his people with education and a future, he degraded them to
dependent people who are made about martyrdom.... But the chaos also shows that Israel's
strategy will fail to destroy the Palestinian terror structures if Arafat does
not do it. With it Israel will only stir
up hatred. Instead of waiting for
Arafat's abdication, Israel should rather strengthen the Palestinians and play
him off against the president. The chances
for such a strategy are not bad, for many Palestinians are also fed up with
ITALY: "Arafat, The
Decline Of The Old Leader And Europe’s Faults"
Massimo Introvigne commented in pro-government,
leading center-right Il Giornale (7/20):
“Perhaps the Israeli press exaggerates when it describes the situation
in Gaza as apocalyptic, but things are by no means going well. In anticipation of the unilateral Israeli
withdrawal--which at this point remains uncertain--a battle broke out in Gaza
among the different Palestinian factions that are all seeking to control the
territory.... Arafat continues to be the
crux of the problem. The old leader is
backed, as numerous polls reveal, neither by the majority of Palestinians nor
by the majority of his party members. In
Gaza, and elsewhere, Arafat has contacts with organized crime and he has no
intentions of letting the lucrative earnings that stem from contraband slip
through his hands.... Arafat is still on
his feet because he’s supported by the EU, that on one side covers him with
money and on the other screams and carries on every time someone in Israel or
Palestine propose to eliminate him either physically or politically.... Europe, and France first of all, must
convince themselves that the old warrior has exhausted his function as the
symbol of a mannered anti-Americanism:
his presence is damaging for everyone, including the Palestinians.”
"Arafat Bargains With Abu Ala Because He
Can’t Trust Anyone”
Elite, classical liberal Il Foglio held (7/20): “Perhaps it’s not the final battle in his
career, nor the riskiest; it is certainly the most politically difficult since
he founded the PNA. The Administration seems to falling apart. Yasser Arafat is
trying to keep it together as best he can. First of all, he asked his cousin
Mussa to resign after naming him the head of the security forces--a solution
which is worse than the problem. Then he bargained with Abu Ala on his
resignation as Prime Minister. But these solutions seem more like a panacea
that could have worked when his authority and charisma were high, but now they
appear out of sync.”
"Revolt Against Arafat In Gaza"
R.A. Segre opined in pro-government, leading center-right Il
Giornale (7/19): "The disorder
that has been rocking Gaza for the last 48 hours, and which provoked the
resignation of the Palestinian PM Abu Ala...could turn into a political and
institutional clash between Gaza and the West Bank, more than into a civil war.
In fact, Abu Ala himself declared that his resignation was not to be taken as a
criticism toward the Palestinian president, but toward the situation in Gaza,
where the Palestinian Authority has failed to put an end to the
anarchy.... These, however, are only
signs...that indicate years of discontent and anarchy.... The game is still to be played out in
Palestine. The events in Gaza are neither an indication of Arafat's end, nor
the beginning of his end. Perhaps it's the beginning of something that is still
"Gaza Rises Against Arafat"
Alberto Stabile concluded in left-leaning influential La
Repubblica (7/18): "The events
that took place on the evening between Friday and Saturday represent a power
struggle within the Palestinian Authority, or rather of what remains of the
PNA's military structure. Unexpectedly, unknown armed groups...carried out a
series of kidnappings...to compel the Palestinian Authority to put an end to
the corruption and impoverishment and to give way to reforms.... One thing is certain: the kidnappings have
reignited the conflict over reform not in Gaza but in Ramallah, which remains
the heart of Palestinian rule and where Arafat drags out his existence as an
imprisoned monarch in his palace. He's not only a prisoner of Israeli soldiers
who hinder his movement...but also the inevitable distortion that leads him to
judge everything in terms of his own survival.... So in the last few months of non-governance,
Arafat...has not changed anything and has not fulfilled any of the obligations
of the Road Map."
RUSSIA: "Qureia Won't
Mikhail Zygar wrote in business-oriented Kommersant
(7/21): "Palestinian Prime Minister
Ahmed Qureia has withdrawn his letter of resignation he sent to PA chief Yasser
Arafat last week. This means that the
political crisis in the PA, its worst in years, is over for now. Ahmed Qureia is an old-standing associate of
Yasser Arafat. They come from the same
generation and there is nothing for them to fight over. So there is no reason why the Prime Minister
should side with the younger wing of the Palestinian leadership, which provoked
the crisis. What is more, the Premier
always had the reputation of a man who was weak and dependent on the
Palestinian leader. The way Qureia has
been acting these days, standing up to Arafat and insisting on his own
resignation, shows his true worth. The
international community must be pleased--it has long demanded that Arafat carry
out reform and give more power to the government. Qureia's behavior signals that his
government is not a pocket one and can stand its ground."
Grigoriy Asmolov remarked in business-oriented Kommersant
(7/20): "Many analysts believe that
the true causes of the Gaza clashes are far deeper than just fighting
corruption or a conflict between the PA head and his premier or even attempts
by the former interior minister to take over control before the Israelis pull
out. It is that for years now the PA
leader has been trying to torpedo elections to the Fatah governing body. All this time the old generation has been in
charge. In the meantime the Intifada has
given rise to young leaders. Called the
Intifada Generation, they have been pushing for their share of power. That explains the intra-party conflict, with
Fatah members on both sides of the barricade.
The clashes won't end until the Intifada Generation gets its political
ambitions fulfilled. The intensifying
power struggles are no threat to Yasser Arafat, however. He still holds sway like no one else in
"Arafat Loses Battle Of Gaza"
Aleksey Bautin and Pyotr Inozemtsev said in reformist Izvestiya
(7/20): "While Arafat continues to
fault Israel, this time it certainly doesn't look like the work of outside
forces alone.... The latest events have
proved the PA leader weak and unable to suppress opposition."
"One Arafat Less"
Dmitriy Dubov and Maria Grishina surmised in reformist Vremya
Novostey (7/20): "However
contradictory his latest initiatives, Arafat can't but realize that his
political power may lose legitimacy once Ahmed Qureia steps down."
"Chaos In Gaza"
Zakhar Gel'man declared in official government-run Rossiyskaya
Gazeta (7/20): "As ordinary
Palestinians eke out a meager existence, their
leaders wallow in luxury, stealing big from the humanitarian aid that
comes from abroad, the PA chief having at least $2 billion in his bank accounts
across the world. Nonetheless, in the
eyes of the Palestinian Street, Arafat remains a symbol of the Palestinian
nation, so even his open enemies in the Arab world fear to call him a brazen
"The Dress Rehearsal Of What Happens After Arafat"
Yevgeniy Shestakov held in reformist Izvestiya (7/19): "A majority of influential Palestinian
groups are opposed to Yasser Arafat further usurping power. They have hit where it hurts the most by
kidnapping five Frenchmen (French President Chirac calls Arafat the only lawful
head of the Palestinian Authority) and the Gaza police chief, a close friend of
Arafat. Many observers believe that the
events in Gaza are a dress rehearsal for political processes in post-Arafat
Palestine. As things are going, Prime
Minister Ahmed Qureia seems quite justified in having decided to resign. For one thing, the head of government,
considered an 'heir to Arafat' in Cairo and Washington, was not consulted on
the candidatures of new heads of power structures. For another, Qureia realizes that the
peaceful anti-Arafat protests in Gaza are not the end of the affair, and is
trying to get away so as not to be caught in a confrontation between opponents
and advocates of the Palestinian leader."
"After Ceasing to Exist For Israel, Arafat Ceased To Exist
Sergey Strokan observed in business-oriented Kommersant
(7/19): "What is going on in
Palestine is quite in order. I wonder it
did not happen much earlier. In the
many years of his rule Yasser Arafat has established a clever and extremely
complex system of checks and balances in the Palestinian leadership all for the
purpose of enhancing his personal power.
To an outsider, the system, with the leader in the center, his authority
seemingly unquestioned, looks solid and monolithic. But it is really fragile and unstable. This is clear to all now. The Arafat power structure has collapsed (or
surely is about to collapse) like a house of cards. Funny, after Ariel Sharon and George Bush
called Arafat dead, his Arab brethren in neighboring countries and Palestinians
themselves began seeing him dead, too.
Arab leaders backed, if not absolutely, Arafat only as long as they
thought that their own interests did not suffer for that. Now they realize that investing in Arafat
politically does not make sense any more.
It does not pay off. Besides, it
costs too much.... As for Palestinians,
they must see now that, with Yasser Arafat in power, their country is doomed to
be a ghost state."
"Survival In Chaos"
Ben Segenreich contended in liberal Der
Standard (7/19): “Yasser Arafat is
said to love chaos.... If this cliché
was true in the past, the leading figure of the Palestinians is perhaps no
longer who he once was. Again and again,
Arafat has reacted to the urge for reform among the Palestinian society and the
international community by giving promises that he then hardly or not at all
fulfilled.... To announce, now, a
restructuring of the security apparatus, while at the same time giving key
positions to two relatives of his, Mussa Arafat and Saeb al-Adjes, has been a
hair-raising tactical error that can only be explained with a loss of a sense
of reality [on his part].... This test
of strength is being further complicated by the difficulty to decide, for
Palestinians as well as for external observers, who the goodies and who the
baddies are. For the Palestinians,
Arafat is becoming more and more a symbol of corruption that one ought to get
rid of, at the same time, he is still the figurehead of their 'struggle for
freedom,' and as such they owe him solidarity.
In the current crisis, Arafat has already proved himself weak by giving
in to the demands of the kidnappers and dismissed the boss of the police force,
Ghasi Djabali. In spite of his latest
mistake of appointing his cousin, Arafat is likely to survive this crisis as
well--the question whether after Arafat will eventually make way for a more
radical or perhaps a more reasonable leadership will remain open for the time
"Losing His Grip"
Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn held in
conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (7/20): "One day, Arafat will have to cede
power. He has had it for too long. His unstable health situation is reason
enough to loosen the reins. However, it
is typical for Arafat that, except for his near entourage, nobody knows whether
he is really ill. Maybe, he will survive
for years.... Arafat has deprived the
Palestinians of many opportunities. His
rejection of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's generous offer during the Camp
David talks in July 2000 was an enormous blunder. It was a missed chance and the Palestinians
may never have such a chance again. One
year later, Arafat informed Bill Clinton that he should have said 'yes'--but it
was too late then. International
leaders...are exhausted by Arafat's indecision and his habit of saying one
thing while doing a different thing. How
long can such a man remain the leader?
It is up to the Palestinians to decide that. But, the moment when Arafat loses his grip
seems to be in sight."
Foreign editor Frank Schloemer commented in independent De
Morgen (7/19): "The Palestinian
people are tormented--not only by Israeli terror but also by the misconduct of
their own political caste. The
Palestinians do not have perspectives for the future and their despair is
growing. A peace settlement with Israel
is not in sight. Poverty is spreading
and international humanitarian aid is becoming urgent. Corruption has become part of daily life and
a climate of chaos and lawlessness prevails.
Such a situation is fertile soil for a climate of civil war. The nomination of a corrupt top-level
official will certainly not stop that."
Ahmed Salihbegovic asserted in Zagreb-based
mass-circulation Jutarnji list (7/20):
"The conflict between various Fatah fractions could, on the eve of
the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, consolidate the rival Hamas, which has been
somewhat shaken by a series of Israeli killings of its leaders. This would tone down corruption over a short
period of time, but would, long-term, make reaching of the final peace
agreement more difficult. Maybe such an
outcome would be posthumously acceptable to Arafat, only not to be remembered
as a weakling and traitor at the end of his career.”
"Arafat I Eternal"
Radek Nedved maintained in center-right Lidove Noviny
(7/19): "It is as if the happenings
in Palestine were going around in a circle.
The first Palestinian PM, Mahmoud Abbas, resigned last
September...[because] President Yasser Arafat did not want to give up his
control over the Palestinian security force.
Now the second Palestinian PM, Ahmed Qureia, handed in his
resignation. The situation repeated. And once again Arafat refuses to surrender
his power. But this time the criticism
of Arafat among the Palestinians is stronger.
He is more and more isolated, moving further away from his Fatah
movement. But nobody believes that
Arafat will now be forced to make the necessary reforms or even substantially
to limit his powers. Palestinian
commentators are already clear on this: Arafat will survive even the current
crisis. But then the development in
Palestine will revolve further in a circle."
HUNGARY: "Abu Mazen
For The Second Time"
Endre Aczel concluded in top-circulation Hungarian-language Nepszabadsag
(7/22): “The recipe [for the Palestine
issue] is, in my opinion, ready. It is this: Mahmud Abbas must come back.
Arafat, at the same time, should once and for all give up on two of the
monopolies he sticks to. One is the control over the security forces and the
other one is the peace talks with Israel. But there is nothing new about it.
When the ‘road-map’ for the Middle-East was drafted the idea was to have
someone be the head of the Palestinian executive power, whom both Israel and
the U.S. support. There will be a
favorable development in the current crisis only if Abu Mazen manages to carry out his broken plans. Because Ahmed Korei is not a suitable
candidate to replace Arafat.”
IRELAND: "Dangers In
The Palestinian Crisis"
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (7/20): "A civilian revolt and the collapse of
Mr Yasser Arafat's authority in Gaza over recent days are unmistakable signs of
a political crisis triggered by Israel's decision to withdraw from the
territory next year.... Any temptation
for the Israeli government to say we told you so is tempered by their
realisation that an implosion of Palestinian authority will profoundly affect
Israel too. Some talk of a civil war between the factions struggling for power
in Gaza.... The outbreak of street
protests in favour of reform is welcome and unprecedented; but it was
accompanied by kidnappings and shooting incidents which hint at a more sinister
outcome. At issue is who will control Gaza when the Israeli occupying troops
and settlers leave, as it now looks more and more likely they will do next
year.... The Israeli public supports a
negotiated outcome based on a two-state solution.... There has been an ambivalent attitude towards
settlements and a general welcome for the Gaza withdrawal.... In the light of these events Mr Arafat is
facing what could be a terminal battle to hold on to power. The alternatives to
him are a group still committed to a two-state solution but determined to
establish a reformed and accountable administration; or a sea change in which
an Islamic group much more hostile to such an outcome controls Palestinian
society. Either way surrounding states have a real interest in the outcome.... If a peaceful settlement is to be reached
there must be the political and social space to rebuild civic capacity in Gaza
and the West Bank."
PORTUGAL: "The Arafat
Vasco Rato noted in center-right weekly Independente
(7/23): “The Israeli occupation was
serving as a unifying factor for the Palestinians: the Hebrew state was a
common enemy which was superimposing the Palestinian divergences. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza made the
rivalries in the interior of Fatah surface.
Demanded by the Palestinians a long time ago, the abandonment of Gaza
undermines the cohesion of Arafat’s leadership, and above all, permits his
opponents more maneuvering room to contest the autocratic way in which he
exercises power. It is certain that the
disaggregation of Arafat’s power augments Sharon’s negotiating power,
permitting him to define an agreement which complies with the ‘land for peace’
principle. This solution was proposed
before by Barak and rejected by Arafat. We have yet to see if Arafat will now
be disposed to accept that same plan but it is not guaranteed that he will
continue to dominate the Palestinian Authority.
Arafat’s fragility signifies what has transformed into the principle
obstacle to peace--and a definitive solution will be difficult to arrive at if
he is not removed from the Palestinian Authority leadership."
Centrist La Vanguardia editorialized (7/20): "The Palestinian crisis...could put an
end to Arafat's battered leadership....
The heart of the matter is the systematic campaign of destruction of any
possibility that the Palestinians can create a state, and above all, govern themselves. [This is] a situation that makes the U.S. and
Israel wring their hands with glee....
Arafat's fate seems decided."
"Palestinians And Corruption"
Independent El Mundo averred (7/19): "Finally, although in an indirect way,
Ariel Sharon's justly criticized plan for the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza
is causing the deep upheaval in the Palestinian territory that many analysts
and diplomats have always considered as essential in order to break the
stalemate in the conflict between Arabs and Israelis.... Arafat cannot fool even his own people
anymore. And this promises deep changes
in Palestine. In order to help them be
positive and not end...in a fratricidal fight, it will be important for the EU
to play the cards of real reform. For
too long... the EU has blindly played the 'Arafat card.' Now the future does not depend on him
"Arafat In His Labyrinth"
Conservative ABC held (7/18): "The crisis emerges within the worst
moment, when Palestinian internal union is more than necessary. Again, the bulk
of responsibilities rest on Arafat, who since a long time ago, has become more part
of the problem than of the solution....
The possibility of a civil war is added now to the problem with
Israel. And also the certainty that the
'rais' (Arafat) is not the man that will withdraw the Palestinians from its
ISRAEL: "IDF Wants To
Strengthen Positive Elements"
Alex Fishman wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (7/23): "Up till this
week a legend was fostered in Israel that there would be no civil war among the
Palestinians. This legend was invented
by the Palestinians, but also in the Israeli security establishment there are
people with an interest in spreading the preconception that Arafat is
omnipotent, and when the chips are down he will prevent an armed conflict among
the factions.... The materials for a
flare-up already exist, and the foremost among them is the rivalry between
Muhammad Dahlan and Arafat. Dahlan sees
himself as governor of Gaza in the first stage, and later as Arafat's
heir. Arafat smelled that a
mini-revolution was in the air, but it was not until he encountered the
determined opposition to his appointment of his nephew that he understood that
the reality had changed. Now Arafat's
aides are saying that Dahlan is collaborating with Israel on the issue of the
disengagement and intends to establish a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip
while ignoring what is going on in the West Bank. In the perception of the IDF, Dahlan will not
hesitate to use force and he is already preparing to do so. He is hoping that the other side will be
reluctant to open fire and will therefore join him. The question is whether heads of the Israeli
security establishment will open their eyes and realize that Israel can and
must influence the revolution in the Gaza Strip, so that the disengagement will
be as smooth as possible."
"Oh Joy, Our Neighbor Is Suffering"
Liberal Ofer Shelach commented in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (7/21): "Anarchy is
rampant in Gaza and Israel is awash with joy.
The kidnappings, the demonstrations, the ridiculous appointments made by
Yasser Arafat and all of the other symptoms of a despairing and disintegrated
society and a street that is ruled by gangs--all of that has bolstered
mainstream Israeli thinking with regard to our neighbors: indeed, we have no
partner for dialogue. Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon said so this week, as if proud that the truth of his contention had
finally been proven. But in this case
Israel is akin to the cannibal who ate his parents and then asked for the
court's mercy because he had been left an orphan. After four years of perpetual bashing at the
little sovereignty the Palestinians had...the statements made by the Prime
Minister and his ministers are somewhat absurd.
Sharon, Mofaz and Shalom can only say in their defense that they were
merely following the lead of their predecessors--from Yitzhak Rabin
onward. Yasser Arafat is a criminal,
first and foremost towards his own people.
His principal crime is that in a period of more than six years, between
the time of his return to the territories and the eruption of the Intifada, he
did not take even a single step to lay the groundwork for statehood.... But on
the opposite bank were a series of Israeli governments who never wanted Arafat
to truly build a state.... Anyone who is
comforted or even made happy by the thought that the other is suffering more
than he, is really caught up in a dangerous delusion."
"Helping To Impose Order"
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz advised (7/20): "The recent events in Gaza raise doubts
about the ability of any central Palestinian authority in Gaza to control
events, and therefore raises doubts about Egyptian and Jordanian readiness to
join the disengagement plan when out-of-control organizations and splinter
organizations are operating in the territory.
It may yet become apparent to Israel that it cannot shrug off the
developments in Gaza. A complete collapse
of the PA's institutions--to which Israeli policy has greatly contributed in
the last four years--endangers the prime minister's only political
initiative. Therefore, while Israel is
not a party to the riots and certainly should not intervene in the domestic
struggles, it must help the PA and particularly Arafat impose order in Gaza and
reassert the power of the central Palestinian leadership. There should be no avoiding the possibility
of allowing Arafat out of [his Ramallah compound] Muqata to go to Gaza, to
stabilize the situation there. In any
case, according to the Egyptian initiative, Arafat will be the Palestinian
partner for the consolidation of the disengagement plan.... The disengagement's opponents might adopt
that as an excuse to freeze the plan, and as proof of their claims that the
declaration of the plan is encouraging terror and the internal struggles in the
PA. But it is precisely because of the
situation that has developed that it is important to speed up the disengagement
plan and get the settlers out of the firing zone that is Gaza."
"Palestinian Redemption Throes"
Ezra Dalumi remarked in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (7/20): "The riots
currently raging in the Gaza Strip should be treated like redemption throes of
the Palestinian people, whom their leadership oppressed near to the ground, not
as the start of an anarchy threatening Israel.... It would be difficult to ignore the fact that
those disturbances are taking place even as, on the margins of the Arab world,
the pioneering voice of those who demand reforms, democratization and keeping
religion away from politics.... Fate has
it that the success of the rebellion could bring back negotiations with the
residents of the territories, on the rational basis of 'land for peace' without
apprehensions of a claim for the right of return, as nurtured by the
PLO-Tunis. We'll be returning to those
negotiations lacking thousands of people from both nations, who paid for the
Oslo adventure with their lives."
"Why Not Representative Government?"
Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab argued in conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (7/20):
"What matters is how decisions are made in the Palestinian
leadership today. While Yasser Arafat
holds numerous meetings at all levels, he keeps important decisions to himself
and doesn't share the decision-making with either the government, legislative
branch, or even many in his own Fatah Party....
What needs to be done? The
decision-making process at the highest echelons of the Palestinian leadership
must become inclusive of the various stakeholders. The process--within the ruling Fatah Party as
well among other factions--must become more representative. More than ever before, what is needed is an
effective process that will allow Fatah to put its house in order and create a
mechanism for converting a resistance movement into a body involved in state
"Utter Chaos and Its Aftermath"
Danny Rubinstein opined in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(7/19): "Yasser Arafat and his
fellow leaders in the Palestinian Authority are now paying the price of the
wanton rule they imposed on the West Bank and Gaza. The events in Gaza attest to the crumbling of
their regime, and not solely because of the Israeli policy that obliterated the
Palestinian security system and administration.... Almost from the day the Palestinian
government institutions were established, there was talk of corruption.... The ineptitude of the Palestinian leadership
ought not to absolve Israel's governments from responsibility for the
deterioration of Palestinian rule. Since
the outbreak of the Intifada's bloody clashes, Israel has done everything to
bring about the collapse of the PA. But
even beforehand, it cultivated Palestinian corruption.... Thus arose in the West Bank and Gaza a
questionable Palestinian rule, hated and alienated, which Israel has in recent
years helped to undermine without knowing what the chaos that replaces it will
lead to in the near future."
"Disengage, Despite Everything"
Alex Fishman wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (7/19): "It is still
too early to assess the extent of the disintegration of the Palestinian
Authority.... The primary player, Hamas,
which is capable of dealing the PA a deathblow and of leading the Gaza Strip to
bloodshed and absolute chaos, has not spoken yet and is sitting on the fence,
for the time being. The new evolving
situation in the Gaza Strip presents Israel with [various] possible courses of
action. The first option: to conclude
that it will be impossible to meet the timetable set by the government for
implementing the disengagement plan, given the anticipated chaos in the Gaza
Strip.... The statements that have been
aired in the past number of days by some cabinet ministers to the effect that
'there isn't anyone to give the Gaza Strip to and there isn't anyone to take
it,' seems to indicate that the above option is the one favored by at least
some of the Israeli decision-makers. The
second option: the international community makes an emergency decision to take
responsibility for the situation into its own hands.... While this option would require a lengthy
process, the very discussion of it could help calm tension among the rival
factions in the Gaza Strip.... In any
event, Israel must not remain an observer standing idly on the sidelines,
watching the turn of events in the Gaza Strip and waiting for the solution to
be determined by the Gazan gang leaders.
Otherwise, even if we don't want, we will find ourselves with the worst
option out there--the first one. "
"The New Palestinian Struggle"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(7/19): "Judging by various
Palestinian personalities' pronouncements in recent days, many are focusing on
Arafat's political hygiene rather than the broad direction of his policies. According to this rationale, a post-Arafat
leader who would be less corrupt and more democratic would be eligible for the
succession. Such a view fails to
consider Arafat's central choice, namely to mislead so many to believe that he
was out to build a state, while in reality he was out to destroy one.... The struggle we are seeing now is clearly
over power, and is therefore a challenge to Arafat's dominance. But those vying to claim Arafat's mantle--and
outsiders who are already choosing their favorite horses to back--need to
remember that escaping the Palestinian predicament requires not just new
leaders but a new political system with a new direction. The question is whether a new leadership will
jettison the hallmark of Arafat's rule: when faced with a choice between
beginning the building of Palestine or continuing the attempt to destroy
Israel, consistently and at all costs choosing the latter."
Ben Caspit asserted in popular, pluralist Maariv
(7/18): "A fascinating competition
between two processes is taking place before our eyes: the disengagement
established by Ariel Sharon against the disintegration taking place in the name
of Yasser Arafat. Although it was not
unexpected, it was still somewhat of a surprise.... Behind the scenes, Muhammad Dahlan and Abu
Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] are already planning a comeback.... Now Arafat is going with reform. Suddenly he is replacing people. For two years the world has been pleading
with him while he played games. Today he
is running around, trying to broadcast the appearance of invigorating things. The dawn of a new day. When we examine the names we discover that he
is replacing the old corrupt associates with other corrupt associates.... The weekend's kidnappings in Gaza were taken
from Baghdad. Jerusalem calls the
process the 'Iraqization' of the Palestinians. This is a dangerous
WEST BANK: "Awareness
And Reason To Overcome The Crisis"
Independent Al-Quds averred (7/22): "The general framework that Palestinians
should adhere to is a national action to end the occupation, which is a basic
demand for any reform or change to take place.... Democracy and freedom are of no value or use
as long as the nation and its people are hobbled by domination and oppression
[of the occupation].... Perhaps one of
the most serious signs of the current situation is the absence of judicial
opinion that would have been able to control the events and impose binding
legal opinions on how to settle them.”
"A Political Crisis Or A Crisis Of The Political System"
Ahmad Majdalani noted in independent Al-Ayyam (7/21): “The national duty today requires facing up
to the crisis and its outcome instead of quitting and leaving the confusion for
others. It’s hard to understand and
accept the resignation of the government, unless this government is totally
feeble and constantly unable to face the situation. This is what the resignation actually
means.... The real way out of our
current crisis is to have a reformist vision of the present Palestinian
political system rather than trying to come up with temporary solutions for a
crisis that keeps breaking out periodically.
The only correct means to get out of this is to apply democracy and to
build a political system based on democratic renewal that utilizes elections instead
of force and violence, which only drag the Palestinian society into a
destructive civil war.”
"Social Security For Homeland And Citizens"
Independent Al-Quds editorialized (7/20): "The current events in the Gaza Strip
should be viewed as warning signs of a serious state of affairs in which both
the nation and its citizens find themselves.
All this is a result of numerous factors: on one hand internal ones that
everyone agrees relate to corruption, misconduct and absence of democratic
aspects, and on the other, external factors that relate to military, economic
and political pressures imposed by the Israeli-American coalition aimed at
isolating and marginalizing the Palestinian political leadership in order to
replace it with one more willing to accept orders and conditions dictated by the
occupation to abandon and undermine the Palestinian cause.”
"Gaza: A Crisis Called
Rajab Abu Sariya opined in independent Al-Ayyam
(7/20): "Even though the crisis is
overtly about security, dealing with corruption, which is a key element of it,
does not stop with prosecuting those involved in it. It also means establishing a system that
prevents it from happening again....
Therefore, the required reform can never be achieved without identifying
the nature of the Palestinian political system and strengthening its democratic
essence, which can only be determined by the ballot box.”
"What's Going On In Gaza?"
Tawfiq Abu Bakr contended in independent Al-Ayyam
(7/19): "What’s taking place in
Gaza and what will happen in the West Bank later...goes back to another
extremely important issue: rejection of reform and change and allowing
corruption and crooks to stay in key leading positions.... You can't delay reforms because occupation is
ongoing nor because no voice comes before that of battle. Resisting the occupation demands renewed
energies and a strong internal situation equal to the confrontation.... No one accepts the argument that Palestinian
reform is an American-European demand that should be rejected. In our arena and very special circumstances,
it is a long-standing public demand that could have passed through clear, legal
institutionalized channels--I’m not sure if it still can--to drastically change
the general view.”
"The Resigning Government"
Basim Abu Sumaya commented in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
(7/19): "From now until the
government resigns (I think it won’t), it [the government] must carry out all
of its duties and clarify for us the outline of the coming phase. What are we up to in the cycle of internal
disputes and the absence of political solutions? Are we going to achieve a change at all
levels, including the replacement of every official who’s been there for more
than four years?.... Besides, why does
the government think of quitting before providing us with solutions? Are there any national, not American,
assurances that can stop the series of kidnapping and assaults against personal
freedoms and ensure that perpetrators are given fair and honest trials?”
"A Coup Or Nowhere"
Hafiz Barghuthi opined in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
(7/18): "The presence of militia is
the result of flabbiness within the Palestinian Authority and the factions,
particularly in Fatah, where many are resisting any true reforms the same way
that they are resisting reforms within the Palestinian Authority. This is because reforming the Palestinian
Authority means reforming Fatah. These
people want us to remain in the same quagmire so that they can continue to fly
around it like mosquitoes. The existence
of corruption and its transformation into centers of power have spawned armed
groups as a reaction to the state of chaos and lawlessness. The presence of armed groups is as serious as
the widespread corruption. The current
makeup of the Palestinian Authority, with the same leaders and tools, is too
weak to enforce law and order.... The
time has come to translate the aspirations of our people for security and law
and order into reality. We do not need a
symbolic or sham government that cannot implement any decision. Nor do we need a symbolic president, as
others wish. We want a strong president,
backed by the people, and a strong government that will relaunch the grand
national plan that is starting to erode and shrink, thanks to the current
alliance between corrupt individuals and the nouveau riche who are hungry for
power and wealth.”
"Not An Incidental Crisis"
Independent Al-Quds editorialized (7/18): "The biggest problem with the events in
Gaza is not the fact that they have taken place. After all, this was expected. The problem is that the practical reasons
that led to these events are still intact and have not been addressed or
eliminated. Therefore, these events are
likely to recur, perhaps in a more severe manner. Therefore it is the duty of all parties
involved in these incidents to devise methods to emerge from the political,
security, social, and economic crisis that cripples the people, both in the
West Bank and Gaza, and to remove officials who prove to be involved in
corruption and who exploit the harsh conditions facing the people and the
SAUDI ARABIA: "Doubts
About What is Happening"
Jeddah’s moderate Okaz contended (7/20): "Anyone listening to the statements of
Israeli officials, and the Israeli media, can see the great gift that the
disputatious Palestinians have given Israel, especially after she was cornered
by the decision of the ICJ.
Unfortunately, rather than capitalizing on the decision, which pointed
to the Palestinian need for unity, recent events have voided the decision’s
effectiveness, and given Israel a reason to continue building.... Shouldn’t we ask why this happened? We wouldn’t doubt that someone within the PA
is working toward its destruction."
Makkah’s conservative Al-Nadwa declared (7/20): "The latest developments in Gaza gave
Israel more than it had ever wished for.
Israel was publicly planning to create tension and disagreements between
the Palestinian factions, and to ignite the spark of civil war in the Gaza Strip.... The dispute began in the organization that is
supposed to be keeping the peace and protecting the people. That is why it is not strange to see people
from within the organization taking up arms against their own people. However, we trust that the PA is capable of
resolving these disputes, and foiling Israel’s chances of using the turmoil for
its own benefit. All Israel wants is for
the Palestinians to fight amongst themselves and not pay attention to what is
happening in the world around them."
"Arafat Is The Only One To Lose"
London-based independent Arab nationalist Al-Quds Al-Arabi
commented (7/20): "Without doubt
there are foreign parties which sparked off the violence in Gaza, and incited
some national forces, for their selfish ends, to rebel against Arafat's
leadership.... President Arafat will not
be the only one who will be harmed by what happened in Gaza. If this chaotic situation spreads to the West
Bank, it will have severe consequences on Israel and Egypt."
Ahmed Al-Rubi stated in London-based pan-Arab Al-Sharq al-Awsat
(7/20): "The time has come for the
president of the Palestinian Authority to have a rest, and let others
rest. The current period in which
Palestinians live needs new faces, vision and also new blood. Yasser Arafat is the longest-serving Arab
leader, and therefore he should tender his resignation to the Palestinian
legislative council. He should allow
Palestinians the right to elect a leader of their choice in democratic and fair
elections.... Without doubt, Arafat
loves his people. He also wants to
pursue the interests of his people.
However, his weak political practice...makes him less effective in
dealing with this complicated conflict."
"The Events In Gaza"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina maintained (7/19): "The turmoil and chaos in Gaza indicate
that the Palestinian Authority has not brought carried out reforms soon
enough. Observing this situation leads one
to think that the remarks of the UN Envoy Terry Larson are not too far from the
truth. The situation in Gaza requires
immediate reforms. The interests of the
people must be put first in these reforms.
Israel does not need WMD to terrorize Arabs, or to defeat the
Palestinians; delayed Arab reforms, and indefinitely postponed Palestinian
reforms, are doing the job more effectively than the whole Israeli
arsenal. We do not need conspiracy
theory to understand the events in Gaza.
Simply put, those who in charge of defending the cause are unfortunately
part of a conspiracy against their own people.
Their weapons are silence, and the hunger for more power."
"When Officials Relinquish Their Responsibilities"
Dammam’s moderate Al-Yaum declared (7/18): "The Palestinian Authority is
responsible in the eyes of its own people and the international community for
the ongoing chaos in Gaza. It must
explain to the public what the problem is and propose solutions to control the
situation.... When an authority in any
society relinquishes its legal and moral responsibilities, the international
community will not show it any respect."
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina remarked (7/18): "When things in Palestine get to the
level of kidnapping and holding officials from the Palestinian Authority and
foreign nationals hostage, it is time to sound the alarm. This could be an indication that the course
of events in Palestine will come to resemble that in Iraq. Things could get worse unless the powers that
be at the Palestinian Authority take the necessary measures to prevent such
turmoil.... Declaring a state of
emergency in Gaza, and an urgent meeting today, will not be effective unless
the Palestinian Authority puts together a clear strategy to get things back on
the right track."
"In Total Chaos Look for an Israeli Cause"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan advised (7/18): "What is happening in the Palestinian
territories is total chaos. When you are
looking for provocation and a cause, always search for Israeli agents..... It is not enough for a fighter to wear a
scarf and carry a machine-gun to become a fedayee [commando]. Unfortunately, many political assassinations
and crimes have been committed in the name of the fedayeen, but those behind
the masks were defectors and agents of Israel."
JORDAN: "Silence Is No
Urayb Rintawi stated in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour
(7/19): "Arafat, who was an asset
to the Palestinian people and their cause, has started to become, after 9/11
and repercussions that affected every country and society, including Gaza, a
burden to the Palestinian national cause...the path to freedom and independence
inevitably passes through political, security, financial and administrative
reform. As long as President Arafat is not
willing to undertake real, serious, comprehensive and genuine reforms, he is
placing additional obstacles on the already-complicated path to freedom."
"All The Power To Arafat"
Fahd Fanek opined in semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai
(7/19): "The PNA is about to
collapse from the inside, just like the Soviet Union did under the influence of
corruption that ate away at it from the inside.... There is no foreign conspiracy to deprive the
Palestinian people of reaping the fruits of the decision of the ICJ against the
legitimacy of the wall, the occupation and the settlements. The world has stood by us, but we failed to
stand by ourselves. We have pushed matters
to the point of explosion. Arafat is
rejected worldwide, but he continues to hold on to his seat at the expense of
world support for the Palestinian people and their cause. He has become a burden to the Palestinian
people and their cause, and it has become a requirement to sacrifice the Palestinian
state in return for the 'county' in Ramallah."
"What Lies Behind The Chaos In Gaza"
Yaser Za’atreh speculated in center-left, influential
Arabic-language Al-Dustour (7/18):
“It is worthless to talk about the forms of chaos in the West Bank and
Gaza without taking a look at the occupation’s options and calculations, be
they short-term or long-term.... All of
what is going on is not benign and goes beyond Fateh, the PLO and the PNA. It is an attempt to narrow the Palestinians’
options to accepting the reality of the occupation. Had Yaser Arafat agreed to pay the necessary
dues, no one would have rebelled against him, even if he placed the most
corrupt person in the highest of ranks, as was the case with the targeted
person [the kidnapped Palestinian Security Chief Al-Jabali] when he was
appointed to hunt down the most noble of men, shave their beards and suppress
the Palestinian opposition in favor of the Oslo program, which Israel used as a
tool to penetrate the region.”
“Palestinian Reform Is An Urgent Need”
Chief Editor Taher Udwan urged in independent, mass-appeal
Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (7/18):
“Events in Gaza last Friday and the seriousness of their political repercussions
show that [Palestinian] reform is no longer a topic of dialogue for Palestinian
and Arab elites, but rather an urgent need to confront a situation that is
deteriorating rapidly.... The matter is
no longer about describing reform as an American and Israeli attempt to dictate
to the besieged Palestinian President, nor is it an issue through which
comparison is drawn between the governments of Abu Mazen and Abu Al-Ala’. It is much deeper than that. It is the future of the Palestinian people
and their cause: the fruits of the long struggle.... Palestinian society is a living and active
society that includes all types of people.
But these people [scientists, thinkers, intellectuals] have no real
influence on decisions about the fate of the people, their present or their
future. The problem is that the
decision-making process that was suitable for the revolutionary era is no
longer suitable for the era of siege and isolation, where the powers of the
enemies of the Palestinian people are growing.... Finally, reform is necessary, because it will
not bring enemies into positions of power, rather it will open the path for the
generation of fighters who were born from people’s institutions, from the womb
of the Intifada, from the suffering of sieges, and from their ability to learn
from bitter experiences.”
"What Is Happening In The Palestinian Arena?"
Center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour
remarked (7/18): "We will try not
to beat time and start expecting the worst, but what is happening in the
Palestinian arena represents the kind of danger that, unless handled
immediately and responsibly, could reflect negatively on the entire Palestinian
cause and the fate of the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights. We have said before that Israel has ill
intentions and that the Palestinians must never hand it the opportunity to get
its way. We have sent so many messages
to our brethren asking them to rectify the situation before it gets out of
control and before the rest of the world starts to believe what the Israelis
are saying about the Palestinian Authority and other factions.... As much as we worry--because the Palestinian
cause is our cause - we hope and pray that our brethren will be able to overcome
this crisis, to rise beyond individual and personal interests, and to close
ranks for the protection of Palestinian legitimacy. Time is not on their side. They are required, now more than ever before,
to undertake concrete measures and to show courage and capability to take the
right decisions before everything collapses and we find ourselves, God forbid,
face to face with the reality of the Israeli project with nothing to show.”
KUWAIT: "Arafat Should
Editor-in-chief Ahmed Al-Jarallah maintained in the
English-language pro-government Arab Times (7/18): "The PA under Yasser Arafat has started
crumbling. With corruption pervading at all levels of the PA we don't see any
reason for its continuation in power. The Palestinians themselves have started
questioning the need for its existence. Arafat and other members of the
Palestinian Authority are not willing partners in the Middle East peace
process. On the contrary, they have become a burden on the Palestinian
issue.... Palestinians in the Gaza Strip
have started dealing with Arafat's corrupt officials. They kidnapped Director
General of Police Maj General Ghazi Al-Jabali and accused him of corruption,
theft and exploiting his official position....
Arafat has terminated Al-Jabali and has understood his corrupt edifice
has started falling, stone by stone....
Arafat should quit his position because he is the head of a corrupt
authority. There is no point for him to remain in politics.... Arafat has destroyed Palestine. He has led it
to terrorism, death and a hopeless situation.... Although he has become senile, Arafat still
wants to retain the reins of Palestine in his hands. He has to be relieved of
his responsibilities and should be forced to retire. The whole of Palestine is under the occupation
of Israel. The PA is more of a militia than a governing authority.... The fountain head of corruption in Palestine
is Arafat. All Arab leaders know this fact. It won't be possible for us to gain
from the Middle East road map for peace if this man remains in power."
“Stop Political Heresy And Playing With Destinies"
Nizar Abdel-Kader stated in sensationalist Ad-Diyar
(7/21): "The Palestinian society is
divided, and the Fatah movement is disintegrating...this situation might lead
to a total collapse in the security and political system in Palestine. This will pave the way for the different
militias that exist there to escalate conflict among one another in order to
gain influence...and this is exactly what Israel wants.... We should stop talking about the legitimacy
of Arafat’s authority or the extraordinary circumstances that are standing in
the way of reform. Current dangers are
in need of a new kind of confrontation, by calling for a national conference in
which all Palestinian parties and factions would join. The conference should work on putting new
rules that everyone should abide with.
It should also work on a new interim government that in turn should work
for new general elections and a new Palestinian constitution. Arafat should only be a symbol for the
struggle and a constitutional president for the Palestinian state.”
"Arafat And The ‘Arab Ruler’"
Nabil Bou-Monsef opined in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar
(7/19): "In recent years, Israel
has changed Palestinian President Yasser Arafat into the most famous prisoner
in the world...and almost succeeded in hollowing out the Palestinian Authority
of all the elements that would have been the basis of Palestinian
statehood. However, it appears that
Sharon has lost his big battle with Arafat...and could not, despite his
strength, discredit him in the eyes of his people and the world.... The crisis which Arafat is facing now,
though...will place him on a slippery path....
His symbolism or legitimate status will not help him now.... He is now on an equal footing with other Arab
rulers who are inflicted with the sickness of dictatorial and family dominance
over the country they rule, by that obstructing all chances for reform.”
"This Is Not The Time To Bring Arafat To Account"
Talal Salman concluded in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(7/19): “Arafat has constricted in his
person the whole of Palestine, the armed struggle, the PLO, and the Palestinian
Authority...and this is truly dangerous for the Palestinian cause. We have to remember, however, that he was
encouraged to continue in his corrupted ways by the Israelis and the
Americans. We have to remember Israel’s
role in destroying the Palestinian Authority the last three years by
imprisoning its president and re-occupying the West Bank. We have to remember also that Israel’s
actions in Palestinian authority areas resulted in decisions by Arab states to
rule out assistance that was previously decided for the Palestinian
Authority.... We also have to remember
that some of what happened lately in Gaza was arranged and prepared in advance
to help complete the siege against Arafat to force him to make concessions to
those who are in a hurry to give in to Israeli conditions.”
"Palestinians Deserve Sensible Statehood,
Not Just Symbols"
The moderate, English-language Daily Star
editorialized (7/19): "The crisis
in Gaza over the past three days is but a microcosm of the chaos rampant in
Palestine and much of the Arab world. Palestinian militants kidnapped a police
chief and five foreigners Friday, the premier resigned Saturday, and gunmen
burned down a Palestinian Authority post in Gaza Sunday. These events are unfortunately a predictable
outcome of the failure of an authority to deliver the goods. The Israeli
occupation coupled with US pressure on President Yasser Arafat is of course not
making the situation any easier, but the main problem is the PA itself.
Although the abductions were over relatively quickly, the kidnappings are
symptomatic of the lack of the rule of law and good governance. Such
lawlessness cannot continue. As long as Palestinians do not feel protected by
their own authorities, any talk of peace with the Israelis will seem
irrelevant. Adding oil to the fire was the ill-advised appointment of Arafat's
cousin, Musa Arafat, as the new head of the general security service. His
appointment is widely regarded as a sign of the cronyism and corruption
prevalent in the PA. That thousands took
to the streets to demonstrate in Gaza City and gunmen torched a PA security
post is reflective of the times. Arafat increasingly lacks credibility and
legitimacy.... He has brought Palestine
to its knees by relying on symbolism rather than bringing about results. The legitimate will of the people must
prevail for there to be the justice, stability and transparency required for
successful statehood. Unless this happens, the crisis will remain the status
quo.... The people of Palestine, in Gaza
and elsewhere, must be given a voice in the next year before the Israelis, as
they have promised, withdraw from the Gaza Strip."
QATAR: "Arafat Can Do
More To Meet Call For Reforms"
The English-language semi-independent Gulf
Times declared (7/20):
"Palestinians can afford anything but disunity. As a people fighting an occupation, they have
to stick together and present a joint front both before Israel and the
international community. Veteran
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who is facing a growing challenge to his
authority amid spiraling clashes in the Gaza Strip is still able to weather the
storm only if he pays heed to the demand for reforms in the Palestinian
Authority.... Arafat has tried to quell
the unrest by streamlining the security services and cutting their number from
eight to three. But the appointment of
his nephew Musa Arafat as the new security chief only helped fan the
discontent.... The Palestinian president
acted quickly by demoting his nephew and appointing Abdel Razzek al-Mejeida to
the post but the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has dismissed the act as a ploy
designed to sidestep demands for reform....
Corruption charges have been leveled against many Palestinian officials
from time to time. The Palestinian
Authority headed by Arafat could look into these allegations and punish those
found guilty of looting public funds allocated for development projects. Though Arafat is still revered by the
majority of Palestinians as the symbol of Palestinian resistance against
Israeli occupation and oppression, many of them also think he wields too much
power and is surrounded by a coterie of aides, most of whom are out of tune
with the present times. According to
observers, the old guard should give way to the new generation of leaders, and
initiate reforms, not as a result of external pressure but as a benevolent
leadership that has its fingers on the pulse of its people. It is true that Israel is responsible for
almost all the present woes of the Palestinians but that cannot be an excuse to
ward off demands for reforms."
"Sharon, Out Of Era"
Izziddin Darwish said in government-owned Tishreen
(7/20): "Sharon will not find out
the exit he is looking for having exhausted all his chances for salvation and
placed himself and his cabinet in a corner that seems impossible to escape.... It is no secret that Sharon is placing his
bet on creating a rift among the Palestinian people and manipulating their
domestic affairs and giving the impression that Palestinians are incapable to
run their own affairs. Recent months reflect the Israeli sabotage in the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip. The outcome was frustrating for Sharon, who felt
impotent before the solidity of the Palestinian national will and its strong
action in defending right and resisting occupation.... Certainly, Sharon did not read history, did
not make use of the experience of former Israeli rulers and did not learn the
lesson from people struggle for liberation....
Occupation is the cause of Sharon's plight. Ending occupation will not
only save him, but will also save the region. If occupation continues, this
means more dangers and instability in the region. Americans must be fully aware
of this equation, but unfortunately they are pursuing the illusions of Sharon
who is living out of his era by his mentality and policies."
Have No More Patience"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News
maintained (7/20): "Palestinian
National Authority corruption, like Israeli occupation, is a cancer that
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have suffered since the Sixties, but
only came to prominence in the Nineties when they met face to face for the
first time with their leadership.
Fighting the brutal Israeli occupation has been such a priority for so
long that any investigations into other Palestinian political and social issues
have been abandoned as quickly as being claimed.... But those who believed that internal problems
must be left to rot for brighter days when the Palestinians are independent are
the very ones who begged off the backs of refugees to build their
empires.... The Palestinians...have been
too gracious and too patient to do anything about President Yasser Arafat and
his entourage's behavior. Arafat lives
by the reputation that he is not corrupt, but officials around him are. Arafat knows what his coterie is up to but he
turns a blind eye.... That is the
ultimate crime, when a leader allows blatant abuse and harm to his struggling
population for the sake of political gains.
Arafat has failed to secure land for a Palestinian state and now he is
even failing to secure a healthy people for a Palestinian nation. It is time he stepped aside and allowed
someone else to clean up his mess and save the dream."
"Palestinians Face Moment Of Truth"
The business-oriented Australian Financial
Review asserted (7/21): “The
security crisis in Gaza is the most serious threat to Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat's grip on power since his return there a decade ago. But for the
long-suffering Palestinian people, the crisis--sparked by a power struggle in
anticipation of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza next year--is also an
opportunity.... But if peace is the
answer, Mr Arafat--distrusted by the Israelis and the Americans, and
increasingly by the UN and his own people--has no role to play. Hence the
anarchy in Gaza as younger Palestinian leaders stake their claims and Mr Arafat
tries to outwit them, hold on to power and keep his crumbling PA government
together.... But the Israeli leader also
has a responsibility to offer moderate Palestinians hope: that if they choose a
new leadership committed to peace, Israel will reward them by leaving them the
makings of a viable state in the West Bank.”
"Arafat In A Difficult Situation"
Xu Qisheng commented on in official intellectual
Guangming Daily (Guangming Ribao) (7/20): "Analysts believe that Arafat’s reform
of the security apparatus is a compromise to the requests that the
international community has been making for a long time. However, his intention of further dominating
Palestinian military forces by nominating his favorites or relatives to
essential positions is a ‘dangerous symbol.’
At this moment the public’s protest activities are not aimed at Arafat,
but at the corrupt officials led by him.
The nomination affair is just an outlet for the heightened conflicts
within Palestine. It has exposed the
Palestinian parties’ internal conflicts.
Although Arafat retracted [his nephew] Moussa’s nomination, people will
still have to wait and see whether or not the disturbances can ‘completely calm
"Arafat’s Staff Wants To Rebel: Three
Kidnappings In One Day, Premier Trying To Resign"
Huang Beizhao observed in official Communist Party-run
international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (7/19): “Analysts point out that Qurei’s resignation
reflects the internal divergence within Palestine.... The reasons behind this are complicated. Israel’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip
will be implemented and for a time there will exist a power vacuum in the
region. Thus the Palestinian parties
have become active and are fighting each other to enlarge their forces and
influence so that they can occupy positions in the future political
setup.... Some Middle East media point
out that...the Palestinian Authority believes they are incapable of dealing
with Gaza’s various armed forces.
Furthermore, since Arafat is still besieged in his compound in the West
Bank city of Ramallah, he can’t interfere directly, and therefore the prospects
for Gaza are very confusing.”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):
"Let Your Ministers Govern, Mr. Arafat"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
advised (7/21): "Yasser Arafat has
long been revered by Palestinians, not only as their president but as the most
potent symbol of the struggle for an independent state. Now, however, he is in danger of becoming a
symbol of obstructionism. As chaos
reigns in Gaza, Mr. Arafat increasingly appears as a stubborn and unresponsive
leader who is deliberately holding back reform.
Determined to maintain his personal grip on power, the president is
frustrating changes which could help realize the aspirations of his
people.... Mr. Arafat has many times
proved himself adept at maintaining control and power. His first instinct is for survival, so he has
reacted to these latest troubles by demoting his cousin and appointing a new
and more popular security chief. But
this is unlikely to be enough. As
Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, planned for next year, approaches, a power struggle
is under way. There is a risk it could
descend into civil war. This would be a
disaster for all concerned--Palestinians and Israelis. Mr. Arafat has an unprecedented opportunity
to show that he is willing to do what is best for his people--implementing the
necessary reforms.... Only by letting
Mr. Qorei and his cabinet get on with the job can progress really be made
towards statehood. This will involve Mr.
Arafat relinquishing some of his control--and it will go against his
instincts. But this is what a true
leader of the Palestinian people would do."
"Arafat Is Facing Governance Crisis"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked
(7/20): "After a series of
kidnappings, the smell of anarchy is getting stronger and stronger in the Gaza
Strip. People worry that by replacing
the vacuum left by the withdrawal of Israeli forces with Palestinian armed
forces and security forces, the situation will become absolutely lawless.... UN
special envoy for the Middle East Roed-Larsen accused Palestine of making no
progress to reform Palestinian security services. Security forces are fighting internally. The Palestinian Authority is in fact at a
stalemate. He believes that the main
reason for the current situation is that the Palestinian ruling level lacks
political desire to reform. Arafat's
confinement in his Ramallah residence should not become an excuse for his
passiveness and inactiveness.... The
chaotic situation in the Gaza Strip demonstrates that militant forces may want
to take the opportunity to seize power.
Different factions possessing their own army have made the situation
difficult for the Palestinian autonomy government to cope with. The originally complicated situation has
become even more confusing. If the
Palestinian autonomy government fails to master the situation, Palestinians
will fall apart. The dream of finding a
state can hardly come true. The split of
Palestinians will only lead the Middle East situation to a more dangerous
NEW ZEALAND: "Arafat's
The moderate Christchurch-based Press editorialized
(7/20): "Rather than answering the
calls of his critics for security reform, this simply fuelled further dissent
as he unilaterally named his own cousin, Mussa Arafat, as the security chief in
Gaza. Arafat's appointment suggests that
he has failed to comprehend the causes of the unrest.... The insurrection in Gaza shows that his
authority is now under threat from his own Fatah followers.... Appointing his own relative, a man who has
previously been accused of human-rights violations, as security head, has
compounded these criticisms by carrying with it the stigma of cronyism. It is this appointment which sparked the most
recent escalation of violence in Gaza.
Adding to the chaos has been the attempted resignation of Prime Minister
Ahmed Qureia.... The present instability
could be interpreted as a jostling for control ahead of Israeli's planned
withdrawal from Gaza next year....
Without a strong and credible authority, peace will be nearly impossible
to achieve in the Middle East. And if there is no peace, the echoes of this violence
will continue to feed the bitterness of the Islamic world.... At present the position of Arafat himself
does not appear to be directly threatened. The veteran leader, however, should
realise that this will change if he fails to address the grievances that have
become evident in the Gaza protests. Both for his own sake and to ensure the
authority is credible enough to be a partner in a peace process, Arafat must
now show a genuine commitment to reforming his organisation and curbing
Populist Urdu-language Khabrain commented (7/19): "Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei has
resigned, but President Yasser Arafat has not accepted his resignation.... Palestinian leaders must work together to find
a solution to this political crisis so that the freedom movement is not
harmed. Moreover, (following the ICJ
ruling) the international community must urge Israel to stop building the fence
and move forward on the Mideast peace process."
Revolt Against The Arafats"
Independent English-language New Age said (7/20): "The demonstrations in Gaza to protest
the appointment of Musa Arafat may be the beginning of a very embarrassing
period for Yasser Arafat. It was unwise
on his part to appoint to a senior position a man who could arouse such serious
antipathy from Palestinian society. The
fact that nothing has been done by Arafat demonstrates the clear chaos that
dominates Palestinian politics. Chairman
Arafat has a clear need today to loosen his hold on power. When Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia loses
patience and demands to be allowed to go, there is something patently and
terribly wrong with the situation. The
struggle for a Palestinian state, having come this far, cannot afford the
luxury of being undermined from within.
The only people who can gloat over Palestinian hemorrhaging are the
hardliners who today run the state of Israel."
Arafat's Crumbling World"
The conservative National Post commented (7/22): "In some ways, a Palestinian civil war
that pits Yasser Arafat's old guard against younger PA reformers might be a
positive development. If Palestinian factions are fighting amongst themselves,
they will have less time to conduct terrorist attacks. It might also result in
Yasser Arafat's malign influence finally being wiped from the West Bank and
Gaza, and thus give the Palestinians a real chance to gain a competent
government and negotiate a lasting peace deal with Israel. On the other hand, a
civil war could also mean a humanitarian disaster, with many innocent
Palestinians put at risk. As well, there is no telling what the outcome would
be: In the power vacuum that ensues, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Hamas,
Islamic Jihad or other terrorist groups might seize control, essentially
turning the West Bank and Gaza into the Palestinian equivalent of Taliban
Afghanistan. The best scenario would be for Mr. Arafat to read the writing on
the wall and step down. Unfortunately, given the man's track record, it is also
the most unlikely."
"Arafat And The Chaos In The Palestinian Fold"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (7/20): "Essentially cut adrift, the
Palestinians will eventually have to face the task of governing
themselves. Mr. Arafat has proven
himself utterly incapable of the task. Yet, at the same time, he refuses to
give his prime ministers the authority to carry out the reforms that the PA
needs to become viable.... Until he
finds that will, or lets someone else find it for him, the long-suffering
Palestinian people will not have a prayer of realizing their dream of living in
peace and freedom in a new independent state."
"Time For Arafat To Ponder Quitting"
The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (7/20): "Arafat, 74, will always be the founding
father of Palestinian nationalism. But over the years he has failed to show any
understanding of the fundamental difference between nationalism and
nation-building. If he truly wants his people to enjoy peace and freedom and
attain the nationhood he has championed for so many years, Arafat will
recognize that he has become a major impediment to their dreams and that it
finally may be time for him to consider relinquishing the reins of power to the
next generation of Palestinians committed to real reform."
"Arafat's Jig Could Be Up"
The nationalist Ottawa Citizen commented (7/20): "The walls of Yasser Arafat's corrupt
little empire are wobbling. Eventually they will collapse, and when they do, so
will one of the most perfect examples of authoritarian politics in modern
history.... The day the Palestinians get
a state is the day Mr. Arafat's loses his raison d'etre. Dictators thrive in
war, not peace. It is not in Mr. Arafat's personal interest to give the
Palestinians a state. The disquiet in Gaza suggests that finally the jig may be
Center-right O Globo opined (7/21): "Palestinians are on the warpath among
themselves: in the recent days there have been kidnappings, crises in the
cabinet and demonstrations against Arafat, accused of heading corrupt
institutions, incapable of guaranteeing security and stability. Arafat’s position is ambiguous as always; it
is not clear whether he has lost control over things or stimulates chaos to
once again appear as the salvation of the Palestinian cause at the right moment. For now it only seems a mutiny on board on
the eve of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza to then decide who stays with the
leftovers. But, if it’s confirmed that
in fact there is not a reliable authority, the Palestinian society--split
between moderates who want peace with Israel, and radicals who fight for
Israel’s extinction--is running the risk of plunging into a civil war.”
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (7/20): "Yasser Arafat is a survivor.... The Palestinian leader is once again facing
serious problems. Contrary to other
occasions, however, the setbacks have not been imposed by his enemies, but by
his allies.... There are serious doubts
about the capability of a decaying and physically weakened Arafat to face this
challenge. After ten years, his
administration has been stained by corruption and nepotism, aggravated by the
Israeli repression and a hopeless future.
In an ideal situation, Arafat would conduct his own succession. He would designate a prime minister and give
him real powers so that he could resume peace negotiations with Israel. Unfortunately, such a transfer of power does
not seem to be part of Arafat's plans--whose political heritage may result in a
bloody civil war."
MEXICO: “Divided Palestine”
Gabriela de la Paz asserted in independent El
Norte (7/21): "Placed in power,
Yasser Arafat has noticed that the job of governor is much more difficult than
the one of leader of the PLO.... For
Palestinians, Arafat means the promise of a state that has not become concrete.
Despite the efforts by the U.N., Europe and the U.S. they haven’t been able to
achieve the creation of a state, partly due to the negativity of certain
Israeli sectors but also because the same Palestinians haven’t been able to set
the foundation. In other words, they had elections for President, but in
reality what they have is a dictator for life who makes decision depending on
his personal interests. … This weekend’s crisis is important not only because
it reveals Yasser Arafat’s corruption and ineptitude but also because the
security issue becomes more fragile than ever in spite of the evacuation of
Israeli troops of Gaza by the end of 2005....
Perhaps Arafat is convinced that Ariel Sharon is difficult to bend and
is playing with the pieces he has left on the board. Following the current
impossibility of removing the security wall and interposing legal resources,
maybe he is appealing to the classic move of jamming relations with Israel
until something changes the circumstances. But he is risking that Sharon wins
more positions as well as provoking annoyance in his own people and in the
international community due to the lack of results and the same excuses of
always. All of this because he believes himself to be infallible and immortal.”