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November 1998 
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MER - Washington - 1 Nov:

For years now readers of MER know that we have repeatedly stressed that the real goal of the Israelis was to foment a Palestinian civil war. Such a war would further demoralize the Palestinians internally and discredit them internationally, allowing the imposition of Israeli designs by whatever name one chooses to call them -- the Allon Plan, the Oslo Agreement, the Sharon Plan -- they all have far more in common than differences.

"A low-grade civil war" has been going on now for some time. But this week, for the first time, the internal tensions and the actual threats are beginning to reach the boiling point and threatening to openly erupt.

In the short-term, Arafat and his handlers and promoters -- now the Mossad, the CIA, and the Jordanian Muhabarat, along with the regimes in Cairo and Riyahd -- are likely to prevail. But the cost in blood and radicalization will be considerable, and predicting the future ramifications of these developments is difficult at best.

The Jordanian monarchy may not survive its treachery which has become more and more exposed. The American-sponsored regimes in Cairo and Riyadh are far less stable then is generally appreciated. These are the same corrupt and inept regimes that watched the destruction of Lebanon, participated in the destruction of Iraq, and are responsible for pushing the Palestinians to today's worse than ever situation. And as for Arafat, veteran AP reporter Barry Sweid, himself very close to the Israelis, was recently heard commenting shortly after the Wye agreement, "I doubt he can get an insurance policy any more."

The following just in from the AP as Civil War looms in today's doubly occupied Palestine.


By Mariam Sami

JERUSALEM (AP - 11/1) -- In a potentially serious blow to the fledgling peace accords, Hamas' military wing on Sunday made its first direct threat against the government of Yasser Arafat, accusing the Palestinian leader of treason.

All-out conflict between Arafat's government and the radical Islamic group could make it extremely difficult to move ahead with the implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian land-for-security agreement signed Oct. 23 in Washington.

The threat comes three days after Arafat put Hamas' spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, under house arrest, and as the Palestinians were said to be hunting a top Hamas military leader.

``There is no doubt that Arafat and his repressive security apparatus have reached the point of treason,'' said the leaflet signed by the Hamas military arm, the Izzedine al Qassem brigades, and faxed to news organizations. ``The beginning of infighting has appeared, and no one can put out its fire.''

In the leaflet, Hamas appealed to Arafat to halt an ongoing crackdown against ``our sons and fighters'' in order to spare Palestinians ``the horrors ... of civil war.''

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it would not comment on the threat until its authenticity could be verified. However, the ornate language, style and phrasing were similar to past communications from Hamas' military wing.

A senior Palestinian security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also refused immediate comment.

Just last week, Yassin said Hamas did not want a bloody confrontation with the Palestinian Authority.

But that was before Arafat put Yassin under house arrest following a Hamas claim of responsibility for a failed suicide bombing on Thursday aimed at Jewish settler children in the Gaza Strip.

None of the children were hurt, but an Israeli soldier was killed when the military jeep he was riding in intercepted the explosives-rigged car.

In the leaflet, Hamas claimed the jeep, not the school bus, was its real target. ``We would never target children or the elderly,'' it said.

Up until now, Hamas has insisted that its quarrel is only with Israel, with which it rejects any peace. However, it has reacted with increasing stridency to provisions in the Oct. 23 peace accord signed in Washington that call for a concerted move against Islamic militants by Arafat's government.

Arafat launched the wide-ranging crackdown against Hamas even before Thursday's attack. In recent days, more than 100 Hamas activists have been rounded up.

Also Sunday, Hamas officials in Jordan said the Jordanian government had ordered Hamas supporters to stop talking to the media, cutting off a major platform for criticizing Israel.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the government asked them to stop making statements to reporters shortly after the peace agreement was signed.

Israel has demanded the dismantling of Hamas' military wing and also the arrest of Mohammed Deif, one of its leaders. Deif, who is blamed for several terror attacks, has been in hiding in Gaza for three years.

The Gaza Strip's head of security, Abdel Razak Majaydeh, said the Palestinian Authority was working to apprehend Deif, Israel Radio reported.

``Anyone who allows himself to plan or conspire against the hero Deif or any of our holy warriors will pay a dear price,'' the leaflet said. ``There is no room for self-control or silence any more.''

Earlier Sunday, before the leaflet appeared, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said he hoped there would not be an open clash with Hamas.

``I hope not,'' he said. ``I hope all of the 26 Palestinian parties understand that everyone is allowed to work within the rule of law. If they oppose (the agreement), that's their business, but they can't do it violently and cross the red line.''

Not everyone in Arafat's government has supported the crackdown. Communications Minister Imad Falouji, a former member of Hamas, told reporters Saturday he opposed the crackdown and would visit Yassin at home.



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