Curious events take place in the Middle East. While Israeli Prime-Minister Ariel Sharon packs his suitcases to go to Washington, Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat who seems to have swallowed “truth serum” confesses to his death sins. In particular, he confessed his “personal responsibility” for the incident with Karina A vessel on which contraband weapon had been transported. The vessel was detained by Israelis in Red Sea, at the beginning of January. It was carrying weapon intended for Palestinians. Earlier, Palestinian administration flatly denied its implication in this incident which seriously complicated the settlement of Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Though these late revelations hardly could help Arafat. As it became known, Ariel Sharon wants Washington to admit that there is an alternative to Arafat as Palestinian leader, so the US should abstain from contacting the head of Palestinian National Administration. According to the Israeli Prime-Minister, only a powerful pressure upon Arafat could make him take measures to prevent Palestinians’ new terrorist acts that intensify tension in the whole region. Everything is changeable in this world. Within many years, Israel persuaded everybody, including itself, that there was no alternative to Arafat. And now – such a passage. Sharon has reasons to be optimistic. Last weekend, he carried out secret negotiations with Palestinian parliament’s speaker Ahmed Kurei, Arafat’s deputy Mahmud Abbas and finance adviser Mohammad Rashid. What was the subject of their talks is a secret, though it could be seen that as a result of these negotiations, Sharon made a conclusion that further contacts with the Palestinian leader are senseless. Therefore, a reasonable question appears: was the yesterday’s statement of the Prime-Minister his personal position or he was speaking in the name of the nation? First is more possible. Because everybody knows that there are some discords in positions of Sharon and of Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres. The minister calls in question that Tel Aviv will find any other negotiation partner besides Arafat. “As Ariel Sharon meets with Palestinian representatives, he practically negotiates with Yassir Arafat’s representatives. These persons do not intend to take Arafat’s place, though they make efforts to change Palestinian National Administration’s strategy,” – RBC news agency writes. The US hardly will catch Sharon’s optimism in replacing Arafat by anybody. If things had been so simple, the US would have done it long ago. Though in the today’s situation three co-sponsors of Middle-East settlement – Russia, Europe and Egypt – prefer to have to do namely with Arafat. While the US cannot neglect this fact. So, it is too soon to write off Arafat.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/06/36693.html