International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 23, 2004

July 23, 2004





**  Arafat and his "corrupt clique" are the "crux of the problem." 

**  "Immediate 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 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."


EDITOR'S NOTE:  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 to peace."


FRANCE:  "Arafat’s Dilemma"


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 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 for oligarchy.”


"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.”


GERMANY:  "Inevitable"


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."


"Human Behavior"


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 power."




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 settlers."


"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."


"Fed Up"


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 Arafat."   


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 very unclear."


"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 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 Abandon Arafat"


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."


"Generation Gap"


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 Palestine."


"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 thief."


"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 For All"


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."


AUSTRIA:  "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 being.”


BELGIUM:  "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."


CROATIA:  "Arafat's Challenges"


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.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "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 Obstacle"


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."


SPAIN:  "Arafat, Cornered"


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 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 anymore."


"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 labyrinth."




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 building."


"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 process."


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 Self-Destruction"


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 homeland.”


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."


"Inter-Palestinian Struggle"


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."


"Arafat's Resignation"


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."   


"Dangerous Turn"


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 Longer Possible"


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 Go"


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."


LEBANON:  “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."


SYRIA:  "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."


UAE:  "Palestinians 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." 




AUSTRALIA:  "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.”


CHINA:  "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 down’.”


"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 state."


NEW ZEALAND:  "Arafat's Cronyism"


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 terrorism." 




PAKISTAN:  "Palestinian PM's Resignation"


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." 


BANGLADESH:  "The 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."




CANADA:  "Yasser 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 up".


BRAZIL:  "Dissension"


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.”


"Arafat's Decline"


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.”



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