Tuesday, September 07, 2004

A little background on Arafat

Dennis Ross knows Arafat. He knows him better than most. He was the lead negotiator between Israel and the Arab Palestinians under both Bush and Clinton. After having kept his mouth shut for what must have seen like ages, he has this to say about the worlds oldest terrorist:
Throughout the Oslo peace process, everyone involved—Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, Egyptians, Saudis, and other Arab leaders—shared the belief that Arafat wanted peace with Israel. It seemed logical. After all, Arafat had crossed the threshold and recognized Israel, incurring the wrath of secular and religious rejectionists. And he had authorized five limited or interim agreements with the Israelis. Although Arafat held out until the last possible minute and strived for the best deal, he eventually made the compromises necessary to reach those interim agreements.

Unfortunately, such short-term progress masked some disquieting signals about the Palestinian leader’s intentions. Every agreement he made was limited and contained nothing he regarded as irrevocable. He was not, in his eyes, required to surrender any claims. Worse, notwithstanding his commitment to renounce violence, he has never relinquished the terror card. Moreover, he is always quick to exaggerate his achievements, even while maintaining an ongoing sense of grievance. During the Oslo peace process, he never prepared his public for compromise. Instead, he led the Palestinians to believe the peace process would produce everything they ever wanted—and he implicitly suggested a return to armed struggle if negotiations fell short of those unattainable goals. Even in good times, Arafat spoke to Palestinian groups about how the struggle, the jihad, would lead them to Jerusalem. Too often his partners in the peace process dismissed this behavior as Arafat being caught up in rhetorical flourishes in front of his “party” faithful. I myself pressed him when his language went too far or provoked an angry Israeli response, but his stock answer was that he was just talking about the importance of struggling for rights through the negotiation process.

But from the start of the Oslo negotiations in 1993, Arafat focused only on what he was going to receive, not what he had to give. He found it difficult to live without a cause, a struggle, a grievance, and a conflict to define him. Arafat never faced up to what he would have to do—even though we tried repeatedly to condition him. As a result, when he was finally put to the test with former President Bill Clinton’s proposal in December 2000, Arafat failed miserably.

Is there any sign that Arafat has changed and is ready to make historic decisions for peace? I see no indication of it.
Keep in mind this man is a politician. His statements amount to hammerblows when translated into the language of real humans.
On the subject of who directs or controls the Arab violence:
Arafat has demonstrated in the past that he can prevent violence—most notably in the spring of 1996 when he cracked down on Hamas and also in the first year of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s administration, when Israel, for the only time in its history, had a year in which it did not suffer a single fatality from terror.

Yet from the beginning of the peace process, Arafat made clear he prefers to co-opt, not confront, extremist groups. This approach reflects his leadership style: He never closes doors. He never forecloses options. He never knows when he might want to have a particular group, no matter what its ideology or purpose, on his side. This strategy has certainly been true of his dealings with Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In 1996, he suppressed extremists because they were threatening his power, not because they carried out four suicide bombings in Israel in nine days. Even then, the crackdown, while real, was limited. Arafat did not completely shut the door on either group.

In the past, whenever Arafat cracked down or threatened to do so, the militants backed down. But that stopped in September 2000 with the eruption of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Those who say Arafat cannot carry out his security responsibilities because Israeli military incursions have devastated his capabilities fail to recognize that Arafat didn’t act even before Israelis destroyed his infrastructure. In the 20 months leading up to May 2002, he never gave unequivocal orders to arrest, much less stop, those who were planning, organizing, recruiting, financing, or implementing terror attacks against Israelis. Whether one thinks—as the Israelis believe recently captured documents demonstrate—Arafat directs the violence or that he simply acquiesces to it, the unmistakable fact is that he has made no serious or sustained effort to stop the violence.
Dennis B. Ross on Arafat

And then some 30 odd years old news: Arafat ordered the murder of American diplomats (No, I'm not referring to the
bomb attack that was perpetrated about a year ago, and also has had NO consequences for the Arch-terrorist). No, I'm talking about this:
FBI agents are now gathering evidence about Arafat's culpability in a March 1, 1973, operation in which eight members of the Black September terrorist organization, part of Arafat's Fatah faction of the PLO, stormed the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, reportedly on Arafat's orders, taking U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel, diplomat Charge d'Affaires George Curtis Moore and others hostage, and one day later, killing Noel, Moore and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid.
Of course, this is not news at all. It is in fact common knowledge, as is the fact that the US State department has been blandly ignoring all evidence of the murder handed over to them by Israel. In addition, their own evidence has gone missing.
But the one critical piece of evidence needed to warrant an indictment – the tape recordings – was not produced by the NSA, the Central Intelligence Agency or the State Department.
Everyone who is even slightly interested in the matter has known about this for years, decades. It is only politically motivated that something seems to be moving now.
But just imagine for a second the kind of government these murdered diplomats worked for. It was quite happy to let the murder of its own people slide for some opportunistic motive.
FBI probes Arafat for American kills. Please read.


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