Looming civil war in Palestine
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Looming civil war in Palestine

January 29, 2001


"Fears are growing in the international community that Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) is heading for collapse."

"European and Arab giving more money to the PA to keep it going, after the theft, corruption and repression of the past, is a stupid policy under all the circumstances."

The Israelis have problems, big problems; and electing a man many consider to be a war criminal to be their Prime Minister certainly exacerbates them.

There's a major problem providing water for the Jewish State. All-important tourist income is way down because of the second Palestinian Intifada.

The tensions between the secular left and the religious right are considerable and still growing. Weapons of mass destruction are no longer going to be an Israeli monopoly in the future.

But these are not problems of the magnitude faced by the Palestinians -- among them the looming possibility of civil war.

On the 13th of January the Arafat Regime -- after a very brief "military trial" that was quickly and widely condemned even by those who have strong ties with and provide support for the regime -- put two Palestinians in front of a firing squad for the first time since coming to power in 1994.

When video pictures which "The Authority" thought had all been confiscated were shown on TV the journalists were arrested. The word was out from the regime: "Don't dare to oppose us". Indirectly those thought to be plotting a possible coup against Arafat were being warned about their likely fate.

In subsequent days vigilante "justice" resulted in more summary executions, not necessarily PA approved. And on 15 January the Arafat Regime's Jerusalem Man, Feisal Husseini, held a press conference, supposedly to answer the European critics of what had been done, and especially of how it had been done. "They (the Israelis) are putting us in a military state and in an atmosphere of war," Husseini insisted. "There is only one body that is responsible for taking this critical decision and carrying it out. Only one body. Any attempt from an individual or group to do this will bring charges onto them," Hussein stressed, trying to hold back the emotional flood the PA itself had unleashed.

Two days later in a Gaza Hotel a close friend whom Arafat had personally appointed head of Palestinian TV, Hisham Mikki, was gunned down by masked men. The next day Arafat himself was a pallbearer helping carry Mikki's coffin. Since the killing, it has been learned that Mikki was widely despised as a man who had very little eight years ago when Arafat appointed him, but at the time of his death had at least $17 million in various bank accounts. The word was out from Arafat's opponents: "Don't dare go too far with the Israelis, and don't dare push us too far either."

A couple of days ago in Nablus masked Palestinians shot to death another "corrupt" official as the cycle of violence and killing within Palestinian society continues to escalate. Far more is going on than ever makes its way into newspaper reports; and people on the ground fear even more what they say and write and tell others.

Now, with Ariel Sharon about to come to the pinnacle of Israeli power, the tensions within Palestinian society, and the policies that can be expected from the Israelis (especially covert) to play on these tensions, can be expected to push the Palestinians still further toward the civil war they have so far managed to avert.

Meanwhile, the Arab "client regimes" and the Europeans continue to be used and manipulated by both the Arafat crowd and the Israelis (plus the Americans of course) to keep Arafat in the money and to keep the whole stinking and creaking Oslo structure from being washed away. European and Arab giving of more money to the Arafat "Authority" to keep it going, after the gross theft, corruption, and repression of the past, is actually a stupid policy under all the circumstances. But they do it for reasons outlined in this article in Sunday's The Independent:

By Phil Reeves in Jerusalem

[The Independent - 28 January 2001]: Fears are growing in the international community that Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) is heading for collapse, which would destroy any possibility of continuing the search for a peace agreement with Israel and plunge the West Bank and Gaza into anarchy.

Four months of Israeli-imposed blockades and other punitive sanctions have sent the Palestinian economy into deep recession, undermining the position of the authority, particularly on the West Bank.

Last week the European Union pushed through new loans to the PA, which was unable to pay its employees, not least because Israel held up the transfer of tax receipts and customs duties to the Palestinians.

"We are close to a total collapse [of the PA] and the Israelis must know that this is against their interests," said a Western diplomat close to the Palestinian leadership. "A collapse means that Israel won't have a partner in the peace process and it will ruin the Israelis' chance for security."

Further international efforts to keep the authority from disintegrating by propping up its foundering economy seem likely. If the PA does collapse, much - though not all - of the blame will rest with Israel.

It has repeatedly imposed total closures, not only of the borders surrounding Palestinian areas but also of individual towns and cities. In the Gaza Strip, the worst-hit area, unemployment has rocketed from 11 per cent to 50 per cent since the start of the intifada. A third of the 1.2 million population locked into the 40km-long strip now live below the poverty line (less than $2-worth of consumption per head per day).

The Palestinians' plight has been worsened by the punishment imposed by the Israeli army. Its troops have destroyed hundreds of acres of olive trees, date palms and citrus groves, and regularly cuts the strip into three enclaves by closing off roads. Workers in the south cannot reach the north; goods delivered to Gaza City can't be distributed.

But the PA's crisis runs deeper than economics, and is partly self-inflicted. It has long been seen by Palestinians as rife with corruption. Ten days ago the head of Palestinian TV, Hisham Mekki, was assassinated in Gaza. His thieving was legendary, but Gazans were still stunned to discover from the Palestinian attorney-general that his assets amounted to $17m (11m).

Such instances do not make life any easier for Mr Arafat, who has never been in full control of the radical forces behind the intifada. Militant groups such as Hamas - whose members Arafat had been throwing into jail before the intifada began - are resurgent, and have established ties with his own Fatah movement. "Not one of our members in Gaza is now in jail," Mahmoud Zahaar, a Hamas spokesman, told the Independent on Sunday in a recent interview in Gaza. "We are stronger now, because everything we said turned out to be true. We said the Oslo negotiations would not bring peace, but armed struggle, and that has proved right."

There was more evidence of Mr Arafat's incomplete grip last Tuesday when Palestinian guerrillas shot dead two Israeli restaurateurs on a shopping trip to the West Bank. The killings happened while the PA leaders were in negotiations with the Israelis in Taba, Egypt.

For once, the talks appeared to have been moving forward. But the killings prompted Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, to suspend the talks for two days, angering Western diplomats working behind the scenes to secure a joint statement on peace before the Israeli election. The momentum may return, but the whole process is incredibly fragile. One bomb could bring it crashing down again.

January 2001


Leila Khalid - refugee from Haifa, fighter for Palestine
(January 31, 2001)
When Palestinian liberation fighter Leila Khaled hijacked her first plane in 1969, she became the international pin-up of armed struggle. Then she underwent cosmetic surgery so she could do it again. Thirty years on, she talks to Katharine Viner about being a woman at war.

The end of Israel?
(January 30, 2001)
At a time with rampant current events breaking daily, often hourly, there is much need to remember the importance of sometimes taking time for reflection, of sometimes stepping back to contemplate both the past and the future.

Sharon - the REAL legacy of Clinton and Barak
(January 30, 2001)
As the Barak era fades from view -- more short-lived than anyone predicted just a long year and a half ago -- his epitaph is already being written and Ariel Sharon's government and policies are already being debated.

Looming civil war in Palestine
(January 29, 2001)
Fears are growing in the international community that Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) is heading for collapse.

Arafat blasts, Peres maneuvers, Barak sinks
(January 29, 2001)
For all practical purposes Ehud Barak is gone and Yasser Arafat is now desperately trying to save his own skin.

Barak's 3 no's, and Bush's 7 minute call
(January 28, 2001)
The Americans leaked it, a 7-minute Saturday call from the new U.S. Pres to the sinking Israeli PM -- leaked its brevity that is.

The Bomb and Iraq
(January 28, 2001)
As war clouds gather in the Middle East public opinion is being prepared for a possible regional war that could likely include a combined Western/Israeli effort to take out the weapons of mass destruction in Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The "nuts" in the next room
(January 27, 2001)
In recent years Israel's most important and serious newspaper, Ha'aretz, has taken to not only reporting Palestinian affairs much more deeply but to interviewing major Palestinian personalities abroad.

Get ready for Prime Minister Sharon
(January 27, 2001)
The new Ma'ariv-Gallop poll questioned a particularly large sample of 1,100 people, putting special emphasis on the Arab population and new immigrants.

Panic in the Barak camp
(January 27, 2001)
All the tricks and lies of the Israeli Labor Party have now come back to haunt it. Barak, never a politician, bears the brunt of popular blame for all the political deceptions and tricks that have for so long accumulated.

War alert in Europe and Middle East
(January 27, 2001)
We've noted the "war fever" growing in the region for some months now. There's considerable anxiety about who may now strike first.

Israeli and Jewish soul-searching
(January 26, 2001)
The Intifada, coupled with Israeli brutality and recognition that the term "Apartheid Peace" is in fact applicable after all, are having an effect on at least some Israelis and some Jews; even while Ariel Sharon marches to the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem (and maybe because of this).

"Disastrous" American intervention
(January 26, 2001)
ou've got to wonder about these Palestinian "negotiators". What others saw decades ago those who have been most involved are apparently beginning to see only now.

Sharon marches on, Barak stumbles on
(January 25, 2001)
The 554,000 Arabs eligible to vote represent 12.3 percent of the electorate. The Arab turnout in 1999 was 76%, and 95% voted for Barak.

An alliance of the outcasts? Iran, Iraq and Syria
(January 24, 2001)
So the Israelis are going to elect war-criminal tough-guy General Ariel Sharon to be Prime Minister. This after the most top-heavy military-intelligence government in peacetime history for Israel -- that of General Ehud Barak.

General Powell says no to sanctions on behalf of Corporate America
(January 23, 2001)
Hamas has struck again and the "negotiations" are "suspended" again. Two Israelis were assassinated by masked men while eating at a restaurant in Tulkarm. Though this time it was Israelis who were killed it was another warning to Yasser Arafat. Last week similarly masked men in Gaza killed a close Arafat friend, the head of Palestinian TV in Gaza, just as it was rumored Arafat was about to sign some kind of new deal with the Israelis.

EyeWitness Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa
(January 23, 2001)
The depressing element of this entire struggle is that the Arafat regime survives and...will be the one to ultimately determine the fate of the Palestinian people.

War Fever - Israel and Syria
(January 23, 2001)
Tensions continue to grow in the Middle East region, armies continue to prepare, public opinion continues to be manipulated. Though Ehud Barak too is a militarist -- a former commando, General, and Chief of Staff of the Army -- Ariel Sharon brings with him historical baggage and war-criminal image which could easily contribute to a clash of armies sooner rather than later, even if not fully intended by either side.

EyeWitness Gaza
(January 22, 2001)
A year or so ago, I visited the Mouwasi area in Gaza. It was a green paradise, on top, and in the midst, of white sand dunes. I particularly remember this Guava grove, where the guavas hanging from the trees were the size of large oranges; I hadn't seen anything like that ever before.

Reaping what they have sown
(January 22, 2001)
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak abruptly cut short a radio interview on Sunday after being asked about his poor showing in opinion polls, prompting speculation he was buckling under pressure of a February 6 election.

Israel's president departs
(January 21, 2001)
There has never been, and there probably never will be, a president who had such fantastic relations with the State of Israel. It's unbelievable.

Ross officially join Israeli lobby
(January 19, 2001)
During the Lebanon War of 1982 -- some think of it as Sharon's war -- the Israelis and their American Jewish friends felt they had a difficult time when it came to public relations. And when the American Marines pulled out, symbolizing the failure of the Israelis to force Lebanon into the American-Israeli orbit and out of the Syrian-Arab one, the Israelis realized that they had much power in Washington on Capitol Hill, but not enough power with the media, intellectuals, and think-tanks.

War preparations in Israel
(January 19, 2001)
It's always called "The Peace Process" but more behind-the-scenes the whole Middle East region continues to be an arms bazaar with more weapons being sold to the countries in the area than ever before, most by American arms merchants and allies.

Palestinian TV Head killed
(January 17, 2001)
It may have been a warning to Arafat not to dare sign any new agreements, as has been rumored in the past few days he was planning to do tomorrow in fact. It may have been another Israeli assassination - though usually they don't take such risks and use such methods, strongly preferring instead to use high-technology and long-distance means.

Iraq, Saddam and the Gulf War
(January 17, 2001)
It was 10 years ago yesterday that the U.S. unleashed the power of the Empire against the country of Iraq after created the regional conditions that lead to the Iraq-Iran and then the Iraq-Kuwait-Saudi wars. In that period of time somewhere in the number of 1.5 million Iraqis have been killed, the history of the Middle East altered, the future of the region more uncertain and dangerous than ever.

Last night in Gaza ghetto
(January 16, 2001)
It's quite a game of international political brinkmanship. At the same time that Yasser Arafat is being tremendously pressured, and quite possibly further tricked, to sign some kind of "framework agreement" with Clinton and Barak before it is too late -- his regime is also being threatened with extinction both from within and without.

Generals Sharon and Barak as politicians
(January 16, 2001)
With Jan 20 (Clinton leaves office) and Feb 6 (Barak likely to be defeated by Sharon) fast approaching, desperation and near panic are evident in the traditional power centers, including various Arab capitals.

"Unilateral separation" one way or another
(January 15, 2001)
The separation plan would go into effect...in the event of one of the following three scenarios: as a response to a unilateral declaration of statehood on the part of the Palestinians; under a severe security threat; or as part of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority

Up in arms against Apartheid
(January 13, 2001)
At the end of the second millennium, three million Palestinians are imprisoned in ghettoes by the very man whom the Palestinian leadership hailed as the saviour of peace. Netanyahu had driven the peace ship off course. Barak scuttled it.

Locking in Oslo
(January 12, 2001)
The Americans and the Israelis continue to try to twist the screws. Their minimum goal now is to "lock in" the "Oslo Peace Process" approach to the conflict. It may be an "Apartheid Peace", and it may have resulted in considerable bloodshed, but even so it is leading to a form of "Palestinian Statehood" and "separation" that the Israelis strongly desire as the best alternative for themselves.

Sharon charges on
(January 12, 2001)
he long-serving (now recalled to Cairo) Egyptian Ambassador to Israel was quoted saying last week that if an Israeli-Palestinian agreement isn't reached in the next two weeks there won't be an agreement for the next two decades.

"Sharon leads to peace"
(January 11, 2001)
The last time the Israeli "Arab vote" was pushed toward Shimon Peres for Prime Minister -- back in 1996 -- there was much resistance. Then Peres was acting Prime Minister after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Army had just committed the Qana massacre in Southern Lebanon, and Peres was busy trying to cover it up.

Grandfather Sharon
(January 10, 2001)
If the polls remain as disastrous as they now are for Ehud Barak, expect him to be pushed out and Shimon Peres substituted. Barak has no chance; Peres has some, especially with the "Arab vote".

The Dangerous weeks, months ahead
(January 10, 2001)
Guys like Commando-General-Prime Minster Ehud Barak don't go easily from the scene. Barak's daring-do was lavishly praised just a few years ago; now it has even the military types fretting. No telling just what Barak and friends might try in the next few weeks.

Assissination, siege and war crimes
(January 9, 2001)
The Israeli government, both as a group and as individuals, bears full responsibility for the crimes that were committed. We will do everything possible, including declaring members of this government war criminals who are eligible for trial by the world tribunal." Palestinian Authority "Minister"

Soul-searching Israelis
(January 9, 2001)
The "liberals" among them, the most cosmopolitan and internationally-oriented of the Israelis, are now getting extra nervous. Not only is Ariel Sharon coming to power, not only is regional war possible, not only are the cold treaties with Egypt and Jordan in jeopardy, but even Israel's future has come into question

Israel acts while Arafat talks
(January 8, 2001)
srael continues to take major steps designed to shrink, isolate and control the Palestinian areas forever. The policy is termed "unilateral separation" and it is linked to bringing about a so-called "Palestinian State" that serves Israeli interests, making everything worse than ever for the Palestinian "natives".

Clinton's Israel speech
(January 8, 2001)
On his way out the Presidential door Bill Clinton went to New York City to speak to his American Jewish supporters and further grease his way toward his future. This is the Bill Clinton that turned the U.S. government over to the Israeli/Jewish lobby in his years in office; of course pretending otherwise.

Specter of an "ugly future"
(January 5, 2001)
Lofty, humanitarian goals like 'peace and democracy'? No, America's primary interest in the Middle East is effective control of the world's most important energy reserves, Noam Chomsky tells Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Sharon
(January 5, 2001)
Did President Hindenburg and the German intelligentsia feel this way in 1930s when they saw that Adolf Hitler, and his brownshirt thugs, were about to be elected to power?

Barak and Sharon
(January 5, 2001)
While the Labor "Doves" are busy running ads in Arab papers showing dismembered corpses in Palestinian Refugee Camps -- with the caption "Sharon" -- the reality is that Generals Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon are more two of a kind than anything else.

Arab nations add their voices to the chorus of despair
(January 4, 2001)
All chance of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians in the near future is vanishing, destroyed by hardening opinions on both sides, continuing violence, the precarious position of the political leaders involved and disagreements over key issues.

Darling of American Jewry
(January 4, 2001)
Over the years, most of the strongest advocates of Israel have usually been people who are not Jewish....[I] look forward to working with him...

Barak publicly warns of regional war
(January 4, 2001)
Amid veiled threats from the Israelis to start targeting even more senior Arafat Regime persons, and even to bring the Arafat "Palestinian Authority" to an end, Ehud Barak has also started publicly talking about the possibility of regional war.

No deal for Arafat
(January 3, 2001)
In particular, the Palestinians are concerned that the proposed settlement would create Palestinian territorial islands separated from each other by Israeli territory and therefore not viable as a nation. They object to a proposed land swap that would allow some Israeli settlers to remain on the West Bank in exchange for land that the Palestinians claim is desert and a toxic waste dump.

Arafat rushes to Washington
(January 2, 2001)
Clinton and the Israelis have set the stage for the last act of their multi-year drama attempting to trap the Palestinians on controlled reservations and calling it "an end to the conflict". But like a modern-day computer game the users can interact and change the outcome to various scenarios.

Top Palestinian Leader in the Arafat Regime
(January 2, 2001)
The whole house of political quicksand built by Bill Clinton at the behest of the Israelis (and popularly known as the "Peace Process") is bubbling, steaming, and swallowing many of its key participants.

Arafat hangs up on threatening Clinton
(January 1, 2001)
The coming issue of TIME magazine reports that Arafat hung up the phone receiver on Clinton a few days ago, turning to an aide and saying: "He's threatening me!

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