President Bush’s recent statement on the necessity to remove Yasser Arafat from the political scene for the soonest peace settlement will even more strengthen the latter’s positions. Chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council political committee Ziad Abu Amr said in Washington, “Bush’s speech would extend Arafat’s service on the PA key post.”
Palestinian leaders say, the US President’s threats to suspend aid to PA and use US military force on Palestinian territories in case Arafat would not quit the post, are rather dangerous and hasty ones. Commander of the West Bank security service Jibril Rajoub says: «Suspension of the international aid will mean delay with reforms that have already started in the PA’s life, medicine and education spheres in particular.” Doing so, the Palestinian authorities openly admit that reforms are possible only with financing provided by international organizations. Does it mean that reforms are more important for the international community, not Palestinians themselves?
Following the Palestinian politicians, academicians from the Palestinian Authority expressed their attitude to Bush’s speech. They said at a press-conference in Washington that they did not welcome Bush’s speech. Hasan Ali Libdekh, president of the Palestinian statistics bureau private organization said, practically whole of the society were against Bush’s speech. In his words, elections will be favorable for radicals only if Israeli troops are not withdrawn from Palestinian Authority. As quoted by The Washington Times, Libdekh said: “Who is to oppose to kamikadze actions while Palestinian territories are occupied by Israeli troops?”
However, despite the criticism of Bush’s speech, Abu Amr also strictly criticized PA top officials. In his words, high-ranking officials and security service commanders are corrupt and abuse the power. Abu Amr says, a real struggle for privileges and the right to quote prices has started in PA. “The same people collect taxes and dispose of public property, they do not work on law and order maintenance, they do not care about public security.” It is clear that struggle with terrorism is rather problematic for Arafat under such conditions. Probably, when the Israelis say that Arafat can not do away with terrorists, they also mean the great corruption that is flourishing among the PA leadership.
Nowadays Palestinians themselves say about the corruption. Abu Amr called for curbing corruption and replacement of “the old revolutionaries” with young leaders who understand not only bombs but economics as well. In Amr’s words, the National Council has already addressed Arafat for reshuffling the administration, but no result have been fixed yet.
Abu Amr cannot guess who can take over after Arafat if the leader will not take part in the elections. As for Bush’s suggestion to outlaw Hamas, Abu Amr thinks that not a single government will prohibit Hamas. Hamas is not a radical, but modern widely supported political movement, as Abu Amr says.
It looks as if Americans have reached a Mideast deadlock with their anti-Arafat speech. To put it mildly, Bush’s statements are received in the Middle East not the way he wishes himself. US President’s advisers must be perfectly aware of the fact that what is black for the US administration, the same thing is white for Palestinians. And vice versa. Bush’s speech has restored Arafat’s hero image in the eyes of Palestinians. Yasser Arafat is highly likely to strengthen his positions and win at the coming elections even without activities aimed to do away with terrorism and corruption. The new peace initiative of Washington is more likely to bring Hamas to power in the Middle East.
Sergey Borisov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/07/01/43529.html