Russia’s parliamentarians are not removed from the conflict in the Middle East. The situation in the region reveals that the parties of the conflict will hardly return to negotiations. The act of terrorism in the Israeli city of Hadera that brought several victims, including immigrants from the former USSR, caused a chain reaction. As a result, the Israeli army has completely occupied Palestinian territories on the West Bank.
Yasser Arafat is at his residence in Ramallah, and the Israeli themselves have shouldered the task of a peaceful settlement. However, further development of the situation promises nothing good to Arafat. The Israeli, who have de facto dismissed Arafat from the post of the head of the Palestinian national autonomy, will try to put their decision into practice. In any case, Arafat has no chance for a cabal. His appeals for peace meet no understanding, which certainly suits the Israeli perfectly well.
The US special envoy for a peace settlement has recently left the Middle East and doesn't plan to return anytime soon. This is a sign for Israel, and Arafat particularly, that the USA is not going to urge the parties to resume peace talks. However, Washington will never declare this openly, as it doesn't want to spoil its peacekeeper image. The USA will be guided by the first results of the Israeli army on the Palestinian territories. If the army’s activity is a success, then Washington can make Arafat sign terms that are certainly unfavorable for him. There is no doubt that Israel’s interests will be completely taken into consideration during the construction of new settlements on the territory of the Palestinian national autonomy. The most optimistic variant that Israel can obtain is a complete liquidation of the Palestinian administration.
It is rumored that Arafat may resign from the post of head of Palestinian national autonomy. They say that the USA has asked Greece to give refuge to the disgraced Arafat. It is difficult to say whether this is true or not. It is more likely that the information was spread by the US administration, which openly declares that it will not save Arafat. Arafat understands this perfectly well, which is why, having no positive reaction from the West, Arafat has appealed to Russia as his last salvation (it is well known that Russia and the USA are co-sponsors of the Mideast peace process).
On January 21, Yasser Arafat sent an urgent letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He informed the Russian president about the dangerous situation on the Palestinian territories. The RF Duma decided to anticipate the events, and Deputy Chairman of the Committee for international affairs Kosachev declared that it was necessary to summon an extraordinary conference for a settlement to the Middle East question. In his words, “now the threat of an uncontrolled Middle East territory, flooded with arms and miserable people, is as real as never before.” Kosachev thinks that Yasser Arafat suffered a defeat in many spheres; at the same time, he needs support of the West, even with some stipulations. The deputy says the reality is that “Arafat is the only politician who can be named a national leader.” Chaos may set in Palestine without him, says deputy Kosachev.
Moscow deserves praises for its attempts to succeed where Washington failed. However, it is still not clear whether Russia will be able to settle the problem, especially considering the unstable situation for negotiations: terrorists and arms are meant here.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/01/21/35805.html