Palestinians are not giving Arafat the benefit of the doubt

JOHN M COX coxj at
Mon Oct 16 08:09:09 MDT 2000

Palestinians are not giving Arafat the benefit of the doubt

by Khaled Amayreh

Occupied Jerusalem: 16 October/00- Most Palestinians seem to be decidedly
opposed to the Sharm-el-Sheikh summit, which is to be held today in Egypt
in an effort to end a fortnight of bloody confrontations between the
Israeli occupation army and Palestinian protesters that left over 100
Palestinian dead and as many as 4000 injured.

According to Palestinian sources, even supporters of PA Chairman Yasser
Arafat are deeply suspicious about the motives behind the summit.

"I think most people here are against the summit…we are convinced that its
main purpose is to abort the uprising and take us back to futile political
haggling with Israel," said Marwan al Barghouthi, Fatah's secretary-general
in the West Bank.

Barghouthi, who is also a Palestinian Legislative Council member, thinks
the real motive behind the summit is not much to put an end to Israeli
repression of Palestinians, as Arafat had earlier said.

"The Israelis have been killing us for fifty years with active American
participation, so there is nothing new in this regard.  I believe the real
motive is to prevent the uprising from spreading to Arab countries where
the US and the West have vital economic and strategic interests."

This view is shared by Hamas leaders in the West Bank.

"It would be a grave mistake to think that the Sharm el-Sheikh summit is
aimed at stopping the Zionist carnage of our people.  The US is after all
our ultimate tormentor…the goal of the summit is to protect the fragile
pro-American regimes in the area from their own people who are beginning to
wake up," said Sheikh Nayef Rajoub, an Islamists spokesman in Dura in the
West Bank.

"The masses are beginning to question their regime's close and subservient
relationship with Israel's ultimate ally and protector, the United States,
and the regimes have no answer to these questions except police repression."

Rajoub added "The Arab masses are simply discovering the old adage 'your
enemy's friend is your enemy."

Much of the Palestinian frustration vis-à-vis the Sharm el-Sheikh summit
stems from the fact that Arafat is not really answerable to the Palestinian
public opinion and that he often values American, even Israeli approval,
more than that of his own people.

"He goes there because Mubrak told him so, and Mubarak is acting at
Clinton's beck and call," said Hussein Takruri, another Palestinian
Islamist leader in the Hebron area.

Non the less, Palestinians from across the political spectrum unanimously
agree that the blood of the estimated 110 Palestinian martyrs must not go
in vain…irrespective of what Arafat thinks. (end)

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