MER - Washington - 8 October, 1997:
Just a few weeks ago the Israelis couldn't condemn him enough for the normal everyday-type kisses with Hamas leader Rantisi -- even though the Israelis themselves had facilitated Rantisi's attendance at the meeting with Arafat.
But more recent kisses have been far more telling.
The pictures in Amman from the bedside of Sheik Ahmed Yassin showed the Arafat style far better than any words. Hoping to keep his "Authority" alive, along with himself, Arafat was practically on hands and knees in front of Yassin, repeatedly kissing him in the usual Arab manner but adding to it many fold with quite a few kisses to the forehead as well.
so, Arafat skipped the Yassin homecoming in Gaza -- ludicrously using the
excuse of having to go to another of his sessions with Dennis Ross.
Ross has practically become Arafat's handler in fact.
Both in numbers and emotions, the scene this week in Gaza was far far more tumultuous for Yassin then it had been for Arafat himself just a few years ago. Moreover, Yassin has only been away for some eight years and his followers have been drained of most of their funds and provided with numerous roadblocks rather than assistance.
But the real kissing is actually taking place out of camera view... and its not on the cheek nor Arab style.
Arafat's just concluded emergency "summit" meeting with Netanyahu was no doubt a exercise in submission, the metaphoric kissing of the boots of the oppressor. Further attempts to fig leaf this reality lack even marginal credibility any longer. Once again, as he has actually been doing repeatedly for quite some years now, Arafat has swallowed all his words and bluster and come back to politically subjugate himself before those who provide his guns and money -- the only two things that now keep him and his "Authority" in power.
The settlements continue - stepped up again actually. The repression continues - greater than ever -- the electrified fence completed, the roadblocks more omnipresent. The apartheid-style restrictions continue - continually enhanced by computer tracking, CIA involvement, and corruption deals including more millions flowing into the once secret bank accounts in Tel Aviv personally controlled by Arafat.
Even Haidar Abdel-Shafi - head of the Palestinian negotiating delegation at Madrid and Washington - couldn't stand it any more and formally resigned from the Palestinian Legislative Assembly giving up all the perks and money that go with it and which keep so many others reluctantly on board.