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Good-bye Mr. Arafat?

Judging by the events of the past days, head of Palestine Yasser Arafat is once again on the verge of facing difficult times.

Whereas before, despite all the accusations from the US and Israel, Arafat was able to compensate them with the help of Arab governments' support; nowadays, the support is practically non-existent. Authorities of the neighboring Egypt addressed Arafat with their serious resolutions.

According to the Arab newspaper “Al-Kuds Al-Araby” (which is published in London), Egyptians practically posed an ultimatum to the Palestinian leader.

While alluding to the high-ranking Palestinian sources, the newspaper claims that head of Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman, who paid a visit to Arafat at his personal residence in Ramal last week, addressed Yasser Arafat with three major claims.

The first has to do with the unification of all Palestinian special services: police and preventive security services, and bringing them under a unified leadership. It is also planned to liquidate corruption within these special services and to attract younger staff that had already undergone training in Egypt to join the services.

Secondly, Arafat is expected to transfer his authoritative powers over security services to the Palestine’s Prime-Minister Akhmed Kurei. According to Egyptians, head of the government should also possess unlimited authority over the issues concerning negotiations with Israel that deal with Gaza and the Western shore of the river Jordan.

Thirdly, Egypt wants Arafat to accept the responsibilities of an “honorary president”, show no resistance in negotiating with radical groups and renew leadership of the movement “FATH”, thus turning it into a force that will be able to withstand Islamic extremism.

Egypt awaits an answer from Arafat by mid June. However, even today it is not a secret that the answer will be a positive one. Otherwise, Omar Suleiman threatens to dismiss American and Egyptian defense from the Palestinian leader “with all subsequent consequences”.

This means that Israelites will get a carte-blanche in regards to Arafat. For a long time, many Israel's politicians and military officials have been discussing the actual possibility of dismissing the head of Palestine.

Obviously, by proposing such claims to the Palestine leader, Egypt is trying to gain control over political structures and Palestinian special services. In this case, it isn’t worth waiting for any resistance from the US and Israel; it is better to deal with Palestine, which is under Egypt's influence, rather than with self-dependent Arafat…

In the meantime, “Al-Kuds Al-Araby” with a reference to several sources within Palestinian leadership affirms that Yasser Arafat does not intend to accept the terms of the Egyptians. Actually, one can hardly imagine different reaction from a man who spent all his life fighting for power.

Under today's circumstances however it will be relatively difficult for Arafat to retain his power (even partially). On the one hand, not only Israelites but Americans as well wish to have any business with him. On the other hand, Arafat cannot count on the EU or Russia either.

Arafat does have an alternative nonetheless: he could dismiss those influential Palestinian politicians (such as Prime-Minister Akhmed Kurei and former Defense Minister Mohammed Dakhlan) that the US and Egypt both count on. This is basically Arafat's only hope in an attempt to remain at power.   

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