analysis: arafat wins, palestinians lose again

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Sep. 7, 2003
    Analysis: Arafat wins, Palestinians lose again

    Yasser Arafat has outmaneuvered successive Israeli, European, and American leaders for 20 years, and on Saturday he added George W. Bush's scalp to his impressive collection.

    Mahmoud Abbas, the man who less than two months ago was being feted at the White House as the world's choice for Palestinian leader, has been reduced to nothing, simply because he was not Arafat's choice.

    It took just 100 days for Arafat to trash the dream of the US president that he could impose an alternative leader on the Palestinians.
    Abbas is the victim of what many Palestinians see as a botched attempt by Israel and the US to sideline their elected leader.

    The writing was on the wall from the very beginning.

    It was clear that Arafat, who has never agreed to share powers with any Palestinian, would do his utmost to undermine Abbas and bring about his downfall.

    But the Americans seemed to underestimate Arafat and refused to see the clear messages emanating from the rubble of Arafat's "presidential" compound in Ramallah.

    Abbas was imposed on Arafat, who reluctantly agreed to appoint him as the first prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. The US pressure on Arafat backfired, increasing Arafat's popularity on the Palestinian "street" and depicting Abbas and his defiant security minister as Washington's quislings.

    Arafat's stature was further enhanced by the unwavering support he received in his squabbling with Abbas from two significant decision-making bodies the PLO executive committee and the Fatah central council. And as of last week, it emerged that Arafat also managed to muster enough support in the Palestinian Legislative Council for a no confidence vote regarding the Abbas cabinet.
    Arafat is now looking for a prime minister who would serve under him, not next to him. He will try to appoint one of his staunch loyalists or any other figure who would never challenge his autocratic regime.

    A top aide to Arafat said Saturday night: "We hope Bush has learned the lesson and would not try to impose a new leader on the Palestinians. The foreign intervention in our internal affairs only complicated the situation and created the current crisis."

    If anything, Saturday's drama in Ramallah shows that Arafat has only one choice for leader: himself. In the words of Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, president of al-Quds University in Jerusalem, "This is a lose-lose situation, where only the people lose."

    Arafat has won another battle, but the Palestinian people have undoubtedly lost.

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