Hated Rajoub Campaigns for Arafat's Job

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Mon Jun 4 08:19:39 MDT 2001

[ forwarded from "john.m. cox" <hazel_motes52 at hotmail.com> ]

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MID-EAST REALITIES © - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 6/02:

With the days of Yasser Arafat maybe coming to an end one way or
another, with Feisal Husseini passed from the scene, with the other
Palestinian tough guys bottled up in Gaza, the frontrunner strong man
to "control" the Palestinian people throughout the West Bank and
Jerusalem appears to be Jibril Rajoub. Rajoub has been groomed for the
job by both Israel and the CIA for many years now; his portrait
prominently appearing on the cover of the NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE a
few years back.

Among most Palestinians Rajoub is both feared and hated. There is a
street-smart belief that the Israeli attack on Rajoub's home last
month was not really an assassination attempt after all, but rather a
way to try to increase Rajoub's marginal credibility among the
Palestinians over whom he would rule, largely by threat and force.

Rajoub has actually been thought to be positioning himself for the job
of Arafat successor, or replacement, for quite some time. He's made
numerous secret visits to the CIA in Washington, sent many of his men
to secret CIA-training camps, and has been considered for some time by
the Israelis as their favorite Palestinian "security man" to work
with. He clearly is the top dog designated agent of the moment. And as
part of what appears at this point to be an orchestrated campaign, a
few days ago Rajoub gave an interview to the American Zionist
newspaper, The Forward, in which he went out of his way to reassure
the Israelis about Palestinian recognition of the Jewish State with
just lip-service to the "Right of Return".


Amid Bombs, Shootings, Palestinians'
Security Chief Offers an Olive Branch

 By Bradly Burston

[The FORWARD - 1 June - JERUSALEM] The ultimate price Israel will have
to pay for peace with the Palestinians is acceptance of a return to
its 1967 borders, senior Palestinian security official Jibril Rajoub
told the Forward in an interview this week.

Gen. Rajoub, a reputed moderate who is considered one of the
Palestinian Authority's three top military commanders, rejected
widespread Israeli contentions that the current uprising is aimed at
the destruction of the state itself. He also denied that Palestinian
demands for formal Israeli recognition of a "right of return" for
Palestinian refugees would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish nation.

"We do recognize Israel within the 1967 borders. The Palestinian
people, the Palestinian political factions, ranging from the far right
to the far left, do recognize this fact," said Gen. Rajoub, who is
often mentioned as a possible successor to Palestinian Authority
Chairman Yasser Arafat.

As for the Palestinian right of return, "We have long made it clear
that insisting on this principle will not mean seeking drastic
demographic change in Israel."

Gen. Rajoub is one of several Palestinian moderates who have made
overtures in recent days to Israeli public opinion, which they see
hardening in the face of relentless Palestinian violence against
Israelis. Gen. Rajoub and fellow moderates appear to fear that an
Israeli hardening would strengthen Palestinian-Islamic militants at
their expense. These leaders ? others include Cabinet minister Faisal
Husseini and parliament speaker Abu Ala ? are now calling for a return
to the negotiations and bilateral cooperation snuffed out by eight
months of bloodshed. Before the uprising Gen. Rajoub's security
service worked closely with its counterpart, Israel's Shin Bet, under
CIA tutelage, to block militant attacks on Israelis.

Gen. Rajoub spoke with the Forward a week after Israeli tank shells
ripped into his house in Ramallah, narrowly missing the bathroom where
he was showering. Israel has called the shelling an accident.

"We are not asking for more than the implementation of U.N. Security
Council resolutions," said Gen. Rajoub, who heads the powerful
Preventative Security Service in the West Bank. He was referring to
U.N. resolutions 242 and 338, which specify Israeli withdrawals from
territory captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

He pointedly did not mention resolution 194, a General Assembly
resolution that called for return of the Palestinian refugees.

Gen. Rajoub spoke to the Forward during a week when Palestinian
violence against Israeli targets reached new heights, despite a
self-declared Israeli cease-fire. Last Friday, with Israel still
reeling from the Jerusalem wedding hall disaster that killed 23
Israelis ? prompting a statement of sympathy and offers of aid from
the Palestinian Authority ? a car bomb went off near the Hadera bus
station, injuring 39 Israelis and killing the perpetrators. Sunday,
Islamic militants set off two more car bombs in downtown
Jerusalem. Tuesday, Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank killed three
Israelis, including Sarah Blaustein, 53, who moved to Efrat in the
West Bank a year ago from Lawrence, N.Y.

Israel has repeatedly called for the P.A. to halt its violence and
restrain Islamic militants. Mr. Rajoub said that before the violence
subsides and peace talks can continue, the Bush administration is
likely to be forced to exert pressure to "make Israel understand what
its own interests are." He has said in the past that his "graduate
school" was the Israeli prison in which he was jailed for 17 years.

"Peace and security are not only Palestinian interests, they are in
the interest of Israel as well," Gen. Rajoub said. Otherwise, the
certain result will be "regional deterioration, a situation that
neither the Americans nor the Europeans nor the Arabs are looking

Asked about Israeli contentions that Mr. Arafat wants to continue the
current bloodshed rather than return to negotiations, Gen. Rajoub said
that both Israel and the Palestinians should be put to the test by
adopting the recommendations of the Mitchell Commission on ending the

"Let us have a third party to monitor whether the Palestinians and
Israelis are doing their homework or not," he said. "We have no
problem in having any third party that both sides trust and have
confidence in ? the Americans, the Europeans, the Egyptians."

Israel opposes international observers as a de facto effort to impose
a solution for the disputed territories. But Gen. Rajoub insisted that
the "Israelis cannot be the judge and the aggressor at the same time."

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's center-right government has demanded a
total halt in violence as the precondition to peace talks. The
Palestinians, for their part, have labeled Mr. Sharon's unilateral
cease-fire a publicity stunt.

The gap between the sides, and the often-incomprehensible nature of
the violence in the field, was particularly evident last week, when
Gen. Rajoub invited several leading Israeli reporters into his home in
Ramallah as part of the overtures to the Jewish state. Shortly after
the journalists left, Israeli tank shells struck his house, lightly
wounding him and three aides.

Contradictory Israeli army explanations of the incident indicated that
the tank fire was ordered at the height of a shootout between
Palestinian gunmen operating from Gen. Rajoub's neighborhood and
Israeli soldiers defending the nearby flash point settlement of

U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk, in an acrid and surprising departure
from his customary imperturbability, laced into the Israelis for the
attack last week. "Those who would stop the violence, the Palestinian
police...are being hit, bombed, shelled, killed by the Israeli Defense
Force," Mr. Indyk told a stunned audience at Ben-Gurion University.

"Maybe the strategy is to encourage them to act against their own
people," he said. "I don't imagine that there is an example in history
where such strategy succeeded."

Gen. Rajoub rejected suggestions that the attack on his house was an
isolated act by hotheaded officers in the field, or that the soldiers
had no idea whose house it was.

He said his experience has told him that "the Israelis wanted to kill
me. The means they used, the manner, the timing, the location ? I
think this was a professional operation. Without intelligence
information, without cooperation with the army and other intelligence
resources they could not do what they did."

The motive, he charged, was to foment chaos among Palestinians and
eliminate moderates so Israel would not have to make concessions.

"I think the Israelis wanted to create a mess within Palestinian
society," he said. "They don't want to see strong partners on the
other side. They want to see some sort of chaos, to prompt us to say
no to the Mitchell report, for example, to justify their own rejection
of it." Palestinians claim Israel's acceptance of the Mitchell report
is effectively nullified by its rejection of the call for a freeze on
settlement construction.

This week, in a trial by fire in his new position as Bush
administration Middle East troubleshooter, envoy William Burns braved
new violence to convene security officials for the first time since

Gen. Rajoub said he welcomed Mr. Burns' efforts as moving in the right
direction. "What we are looking for is negotiations, implementation of
agreements through peaceful means," he said. "We do recognize the
facts on the ground. We do recognize that we should make peace with
the Israelis. But it's up to the Israelis to decide whether they want
security and peace, or if they want occupation and more settlements."

He continued: "I believe the Americans have started understanding the
importance of their being involved." Although there are those on both
sides "that will not accept anything," he said, "we can contain our
people, and it's up to the Israelis to contain their settlers and
radical elements. If we have good intentions, both sides can assure
security and peace for everybody. But not through bombs, not through
attacks and settlements and closures. With such things, there will be
no security, no peace agreements, and no co-existence."


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