a bad movie on late night TV, we're being exposed to the inner workings of
the Sharon-led Israeli government's policy processes again. Should he or
shouldn't he; should Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat be expelled,
deported, exiled? And like a bad, old, black & white, b-grade western,
where it's so clear who the good guys and the bad guys are; the guy in the
black (and white) keffiya is being told he might be told to get out of town
again. Here we go again, being exposed to the inept workings of an Israeli
government that can't make its mind up. Either expel him already, or bring
him to trial like Eichmann - ideas that politicians and pundits have recommended
- but stop teasing us already!
Israeli politicians have been raising the question of what to do with Arafat
fairly cyclically since the start of Operation Defensive Shield in April
2002. Israeli intelligence has been advising against it for a while now,
because of the concern that he could do more damage, floating around the
world, as a loose cannon.
Arafat has been sequestered for almost 18 months in his Mukatah compound
in Ramallah. I have to admit that Israel hasn't yet been "too smart" in dealing
with him. Israel should have long ago cut his access to the telephone, the
media and visitors. Heck, in the Middle Ages, they would have just dumped
him in the dungeon - if they didn't kill him - locked away for years, without
any sight or sound of him.
Israel's position has been that he can travel abroad, but might not be allowed
to return. But then every so often they roll out the "threat" of expelling
him. And like that old rerun we've seen so many times before, we already
know the ending to the story. There's no drama here, just two tired old men,
Sharon and Arafat, two old adversaries locked in a love-hate relationship
of their own making.
The real question is why do we have to be exposed, like some voyeur, to their
struggles. Put Arafat on trial for crimes against humanity, i.e. the Jewish
people, his war crimes in Lebanon, the American diplomats he's already admitted
years ago to having ordered killed in Sudan, and all the other victims of
his decades old serial murder spree in the name of Palestinian independence,
and get it over with already!
After having worked hard to prove that Arafat and the "old" Palestinian Authority
government was directly behind ongoing terrorism in Israel, Sharon has yet
to bring himself to a serious decision about the next step. Catching Arafat
and the PA in the Karine A weapons smuggling scandal, red handed, Sheriff
Sharon has exerted every effort to sideline Arafat in the diplomatic process.
The Feds, Bush and the Americans bought into it, but the Europeans haven't
so much. The Quartet - the US, EU, UN and Russia - proposed the "roadmap
process," called for democratic political reform in the PA, and forced Arafat
to appoint a prime minister, not to replace him but to displace him.
Who did they appoint prime minister, but Arafat's second-in-command, co-founder
of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas, know as Abu Mazen. Abu Mazen a holocaust denier,
Abu Mazen implicated in the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes,
Abu Mazen who as late as March 2003 - just before his appointment - called
for the killing of Jewish settlers. Abu Mazen has been portrayed universally
as a "peacenik" since "accepting" the roadmap in April, and attending two
summits with George Bush, in Egypt and Jordan. He's even received an invitation
to the White House, something denied Arafat by Bush.
At a recent meeting with UN envoy Terje Larsen - no friend of Israel - Arafat
accused PA Prime Minister Abbas of "betraying the interests of the Palestinian
people." According to a Palestinian source present at the meeting, the ferocity
of the outburst even surprised long-time Arafat associates. This followed
a number of attacks on Abu Mazen recently by Fatah Central Committee members,
and his recent resignation from the central committee. Abu Mazen also offered
to resign as prime minister. Arafat's associates have accused Abbas of crimes
ranging from misconduct in negotiations with Israel to conspiring with Israel
to keep Arafat under siege in Ramallah. But in the latest twist - the honor
amongst thieves - Abu Mazen and Arafat announced they've worked out their
So here we are, watching this "old movie" again, Arafat again is being blamed
for holding up the peace process, now he's interfering with Abu Mazen's "attempts"
to move along the roadmap. As Sharon aide Raanan Gissin recently said, Israel
told the United States "that we would have no other choice but to re-examine
the status and condition of Mr. Arafat due to the fact that he continues
to attempt to scuttle the road map to peace and undermine Abu Mazen and his
government in his efforts to implement the road map." But other Israeli officials
say that deportation is not being discussed, rather, how Arafat can be neutralized.
Before leaving for his recent three-day visit to Britain and Norway, Sharon
accused the Europeans of undermining PA Prime Minister Abbas by maintaining
contact with Arafat. "He controls the larger part of their armed forces,
still part of the money, and he got all those telephone calls from leaders,
mostly from Europe, and he receives messages, ministers of foreign affairs
and others," Sharon said. "Every act of this nature only postpones the progress
in the process. Most European countries are doing that. By that they are
undermining Abu Mazen. This is a major mistake. I hope with time they will
But the British didn't buy it. Sharon urged Britain to cut ties with Arafat
during talks with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in London. A British
official said Straw "made it clear that the British position, which is also
that of the European Union is that we would continue to have dealings with
Arafat, who is the democratically elected president of the Palestinian Authority."
Later that day Sharon had dinner with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
who rebuffed his attempt to persuade Britain to sever all contact with Yasser
There you have it. The commercials come on, you start to get tired, and ask
yourself is it worth it to stay up, push yourself, and watch the ending.
You've seen this flick before. You know how it's going to end. And like an
old movie you've seen before, you hope the bad guys "gonna' get it." Arafat
should be tried in Israel like Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann. But you
know the ending, he's "gonna' get away" again!
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant.
He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis.
His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites,
in newspapers, and can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko.
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