NOW THE "PA" IS THE ENEMY
MER - Washington - 6/17:
Life for Palestinians is much worse now with the Arafat Regime than
before. There is today a "double occupation", and the days of the
"Intifada" with just the Israeli occupation to worry about are often reflected
on as the "good old days".
The standard of living for the Palestinians has fallen by nearly 50%
since Arafat's coming; and repression is up many times over and still rising.
And it was planned this way. Forgotten by many, "crush their
bones" was the slogan of Yitzhak Rabin when he was Defense Minister in the Likud
Government of Yitzhak Shamir during the initial years of the Intifada. The Oslo agreement
was Rabin's way of continuing his policies by other more crafty and duplicitous means --
and indeed it has worked brilliantly but for the unexpected assassination of the architect
by Israeli extremists.
Wherever Yasser Arafat and cronies go massive corruption and
repression follow. In Washington, for instance, Arafat continues to be represented by
Hassan Rahman -- a petty and shallow man who has squandered and taken for himself many
millions and is widely despised. Even the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
(ADC) refused to let Rahman speak at its recent convention, not even letting him sit at
the head table for the luncheon panel where two founding members of the PLO spoke (and
essentially called for Arafat's resignation and the end of the miserable "peace
process"). Said Shafik al-Hout, when asked about Rahman, "I don't want anything
to do with him. He is not on my payroll!"
This unusually insightful article about how leaders of the
"PA" are considered the "Mafia" in Nablus is by Patrick Cockburn of
"The Independent" in London.
A THORN IN THE SIDE OF THE PALESTINE'S
A week in the Life Husam Khader in Nablus, Palestine
Husam Khader, a political militant from Balata refugee camp on the
outskirts of the West Bank town of Nablus, is jubilant because he has just organised a
successful strike. Arrested 23 times by Israel during the Palestinian Intifada, he is now
leading 20,000 people from Balata against the local representatives of the Palestinian
Mr Khader, 36, a lively man with a quick smile, modest but
confident, does not like the rulers of this Palestinian enclave, surrounded by
"They are a mafia!" he says. "They want to use the
present situation to get rich. They hear only the symphony of dollars."
A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mr Khader explains
that the strike was sparked off by the decision of Ghassan Shaka, mayor of Nablus, to
double the price of electricity and water for the impoverished refugees in Balata. Mr
Khader sees that as a symbol of the greed and corruption of the officials of the
His two small daughters rush in and out of his office at the
entrance to Balata as he outlines the events of the week leading up to the strike.
Other Palestinian politicians mutter about corruption in Yasser
Arafat's Palestinian Authority. But few do anything about it. Mr Khader is also different
from other critics in that he has clear popular support. People in Balata obviously think
he can help.
The local municipal authority does not cut much ice in the camp.
"We haven't allowed them to cut anybody's electricity for nine months," he says.
"They even came to my office, but I sent a message to the mayor, saying: 'Don't
you dare'." Mr Khader details the events that led up to the strike:
On Monday, he holds a meeting of "the Committee for the Defence
of Palestinian Refugees Rights". "We heard a senior official of the Palestinian
Authority was coming to Balata to open a water project on Saturday. We decided to hold a
strike and demonstration to greet him," he says.
"People are paying one-third of their salaries for electricity
and water. The municipality buys it from Israel, doubles the price and sells it to us.
"It is even demanding back payment for the electricity bills we
refused to pay the Israelis during the Intifada. We spoke to Arafat who promised not
to take money from the refugee camps, but he did nothing.
"The mayor even sent a letter to the family of Saad Sael, a
Palestinian martyr killed in the siege of Beirut in 1983, saying he would cut off their
electricity unless they pay the money [the equivalent of #24] in 15 days. Part of
the money goes to Arafat."
That evening Mr Khader addresses a meeting of 300 students from
al-Najaa university. He says: "It was shameful for me. I had to duck a lot of
questions about how al-Sharif died."
Mohiedin al-Sharif was the bombmaker the Palestinian Authority says
was killed by fellow members of Hamas. Critics say he died at the hands of the Authority
or the Israelis. [MER Note - There is substantial evidence, some previously published by
MER, that al-Sharif was killed the Palestinian Authority secret police under the direct
control of Jabril Rajoub, chief enforcer of Yasser Arafat and the main point of contact
between the PA and the CIA].
Husam Khader and his committee are making posters and slogans for
It is going to be the first in Nablus since the Israelis departed in
1995. The local committee of Fatah, Mr Arafat's organisation, in Balata has a slogan:
"We shall resist the [Israeli] occupation as if there is no
[Palestinian] Authority; And we shall fight against the corruption of the Authority as if
there was no occupation."
Mr Khader thinks this is brave of them. He refused join the official
list for Fatah in the 1995 elections, and was elected as an independent Fatah candidate.
A stream of people comes to Mr Khader's office for help.
One woman needs to pay for her daughter's eye operation. She has
talked to Jibril Rajoub, head of Preventive Security on the West Bank. He will talk to Mr
Arafat. Mr Khader laughs when asked if such a detail as this had to be decided by the
Palestinian leader. He lifts up a glass of water, saying: "You don't even drink from
this without his permission," he says.
In the evening Mr Khader addresses a woman's social club in Nablus.
They are well-educated and middle class. He speaks of the bad relationship between the
Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC).
"I think the PA asks God every night to let it wake up one day
without the PLC." Asked why the Authority is so authoritarian, he replies: "They
got used to leading the PLO without sharing authority."
He himself spent three years in exile in Tunis with Mr Arafat. He
supports a motion of no-confidence in the PLC on 15 June against the Palestinian
government. In Nablus, he says, the local government is spending the money it raises in
hotels and at receptions.
Thursday dawns and Mr Khader is leading a demonstration to the
borders of Israel at Tulkarm to commemorate 50 years since al-Nabka, the Catastrophe, as
the Palestinians call the loss of their homes in what is now Israel.
The people of Balata, a half square kilometre of ramshackle concrete
houses separated by narrow alleys, come originally from 60 villages and towns between
Jaffa and Lod. After 1948 they were not allowed to return.
Husam asks his four-year-old daughter Amira where she comes from.
She says: "I live in Balata, but I come from Jaffa."
A middle-aged woman in a pink dress comes to see him. She shows her
refugee identity card, which has the names of 12 family members on it. Her husband has
died and somehow she is no longer on the right list to get support from UNWRA (United
Nations Relief and Works Agency). Husam makes a phone call to the local UNWRA director to
explain her problem.
Husam Khader goes to the mosque in Balata on Friday and addresses
1,000 people, calling on them to support the strike. Given that half the 6,000 people who
could work in the camp are unemployed, the strike will most obviously affect the
He is somewhat contemptuous of people in Nablus itself, who are also
badly hit by the high price of electricity and water, but do nothing. "There are no
men in Nablus," he says. Then he looks embarrassed and softens the phrase.
At 10am on Saturday he goes to the market place with other committee
members. The shopkeepers say they are waiting to close at 11am, as instructed by the
strike committee. When the hour comes the strike is total.
The visiting dignitaries are met by a large demonstration. Mr Khader
is pleased. "Would anybody deny water and electricity to people as poor as this,
unless they were at war with them?" he asks.
The price rises remain in place. Now he plans to cut the main road
Patrick Cockburn in "The Independent", 6/13/98