Arafat collapsing
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Arafat collapsing

February 16, 2001


The Arafat Regime is collapsing. Here are some of the details, twisted somewhat of course because the reports are from Israel's best newspaper, Ha'aretz, in view of the fact that Palestinian and Arab news sources are unable and unwilling to provide such insights.

Arafat brought much false hope with him, coupled with a great deal of real corruption and incompetence along with much repression and misery. It was "Break Their Bones" Yitzhak Rabin who decided to bring Arafat and cronies to Gaza. This was right after the Gulf War with the Arab world at its weakest; divided, co-opted and occupied as never before. And since then everything for the Palestinian people has gotten even worse -- more restrictions, more dispossession, more repression, more corruption -- which was precisely the intent of Rabin, et. al. Since then it's been a kind of "double occupation" with the Israelis using the Arafat "Authority" to extinguish the original Intifada and then to control the Palestinian people under conditions that have continually deteriorated.

If the Arafat Regime does is in fact collapsing the short-term impact on the Palestinian people at this point may be very negative, precisely because of all the mistakes of the past. But nevertheless it is not something true friends of the Palestinians and people seeking a true and lasting peace should mourn. On the other hand, the Israelis are trying to foment a period of Palestinian anarchy and even Palestinian civil war under cover of which they will pursue their long-time goal of vanquishing and devastating the Palestinian people -- and this is the major reality that needs to be appreciated by all.

We have been pointing out the realities of the Arafat regime for some time now, through periods of false and illusory hope as well as at times of heightened tragedy. Arafat brought no dignity, no Statehood to the Palestinian people as he had promised for so long -- in fact in the end he was coerced not to dare "declare" Palestinian Statehood.

Instead Arafat and friends -- paid and rewarded very well for their efforts -- were used to help hoodwink public opinion around the world as well as to legitimize the overall Israeli design to trap the Palestinian people in a neo-Apartheid situation; more divided, more mislead, more repressed, more demoralized than ever. And that is the state of affairs with which it is quite possible now Arafat and crowd may be finally on the way to departing the scene, with quite literally billions of dollars in secret foreign bank accounts awaiting many of them.


The breakdown of the economy and of law and order in the Palestinian territories, along with a growing alienation between the leadership and the masses, means that Arafat's regime is close to total collapse.

By Danny Rubinstein

[Ha'aretz - 16 February: The rule of the Palestinian Authority is crumbling. This determination is based not only on data that indicates a significant decline in the functioning of all of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's administrative mechanisms, but also by the fact that in the long run, the Palestinian regime and the Intifada cannot exist side by side. Rule means the imposition of law and order, development and welfare schemes for the public, the provision of services and protection to the population. The Intifada means the exact opposite: disturbances and violent incidents, the total disruption of services and normal daily life, the end of development and a life of siege and poverty.The more time passes, the clearer it becomes that either there is someone in charge, or there is the Intifada. In other words, if the Intifada continues, there will be no more Palestinian government. Israelis and Palestinians alike share this evaluation as they look on with a fair amount of anxiety at the events of the Intifada, which are undermining the basis of the governing institutions of the PA. No longer is there talk of stopping the violent incidents in the West Bank and Gaza and a return to diplomatic talks.

"The Intifada is a necessity, whereas the negotiations are only a possibility," read a headline in the Palestinian Authority organ Al Hayat al Jedida last week. In this state of affairs, many believe that the total collapse of the Palestinian regime is now only a matter of time, and it is difficult to imagine what will happen then in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The breakdown of the Palestinian administration is evident in every area; the judicial and law enforcement systems hardly function at all in the territories. Even in the past, they were neither orderly nor strong; now they barely exist. In the Palestinian cities, groups of armed young men operate. Some, the Tanzim, have connections to Fatah or to opposition organizations, and there are also gangs of marginal individuals who pretend to represent valid nationalist positions. These groups are carrying out most of the actions of the Intifada against the Israel Defense Forces and the Jewish settlers beyond the 1967 borders, as well as against suspected collaborators.

Active in many of these groups are people from the Palestinian security services. Arafat's rule relies on these services, and they have been considerably weakened in recent months. The PA's coffers are empty and its treasury has cut back the budgets of the security services. The strongest among them - the Preventive Security commanded by Jibril Rajoub in the West Bank and Mohammed Dahlan in Gaza - got significant additional income from providing security services to various institutions. In the West Bank, for example, Preventive Security provided all the guard and security services for the casino in Jericho, and took in considerable sums. In Gaza, the Preventive Security people arranged for the transit of goods in and out of the Strip, and charged handsomely for this.

These were official arrangements. But when there is no casino and no transit of goods, there is also no money for the security services. Members of these services who have not received their salaries have left. Some have moved on to the Tanzim, and others have joined the Intifada activists or various gangs that wield authority. The crime rate in the territories has skyrocketed, and there are many attempts to extort money from wealthy people in the guise of nationalism. Theft from Israeli areas has increased greatly. Stolen cars go for a song now in the territories, about NIS 1,000. The price has plummeted because there is a good supply.

Alienation between the administration and the masses has increased considerably of late. Many older people are afraid to go out in the street. They have been frightened by the murder in Gaza of the director general of Palestinian TV, Hisham Meki, who was accused of corruption and was shot to death on the Gaza beach.

"The muzzles of our guns that are aimed at the hearts of the Jews will also not miss the hearts of the traitors, the collaborators and the corrupt," read a broadside against Mohammed Dahlan, distributed in Gaza, that caused a stir in the territories last week. It was signed by the "Iz a Din al Kassam Battalions," of Hamas. Hamas spokesmen denied any knowledge of it, but it is doubtful that this gave any comfort to the VIPs, who fear that the broadside was directed at them.

The decline of the economy of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has been rapid. With the outbreak of the Intifada, less than five months ago, the Palestinian economy came to a sudden halt. Infrastructure work ceased. The huge national project of building the Gaza port is paralyzed, as are such projects as the sewage system in Nablus or refurbishing the electricity network in the Jenin and Tubas areas. About half of Palestinian industry has come to a standstill. Many of the textile, stone and food plants have been closed, either because of a shortage of raw materials or because of a cutoff in links to the markets. The trade areas with the Israelis, that is the large popular markets of Qalqilyah and Tul Karm, the trans-Samaria highway, Jenin and Bethlehem, which thousands of Israelis used to visit - stand empty. Sales in these markets were once estimated to have reached $500 million a year. Now they are zero.

The banks in the territories have stopped extending credit. The municipalities are unable to collect taxes and have cut back most of their services. The health, education and welfare systems have been severely damaged. The restrictions on movement, the closure and the encirclement imposed by the IDF make it difficult for doctors and nurses to get to the hospitals and clinics, and of course many patients do not manage to come for treatment. Many students and teachers are stopped on their way to the educational institutions, where studies have been entirely disrupted.

Major General Yaakov "Mendi" Or, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the West Bank and Gaza, says that as far back as a year ago or more, there were indications in the territories of dangerous processes of alienation between the regime and the general public. People from his bureau relate that last year, the number of internal incidents in the territories increased: stone-throwing at French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin during his visit to Bir Zeit University; the violent clash between the Palestinian police and demonstrators at the Deheisheh refugee camp during the Pope's visit; dozens of shooting incidents involving members of rival security forces; quarrels and eruptions of mob violence because of court rulings, disputes over jobs and power positions or matters of honor and women. All of these, says Or, indicated problems with the Palestinian regime's ability to maintain law and order.

What is happening now is that things have become considerably accelerated: The general public is paying the very heavy price of the Intifada, says Or. This includes massive financial losses, poverty and want, severe unemployment, daily suffering from services that are collapsing, dead and wounded.

And what are they getting in return? How long will this continue? Most of the anger is directed at the State of Israel. But the Palestinian administration is not coming out of this clean. Israel is the enemy - but where is the Palestinian national government, whose job it is to protect the people from the enemy, whose job it is to provide services? In a situation like this, there are always accusing fingers pointed at the local people in authority, at the government and the Palestinian establishment - who have enough to continue living well.

Arafat and his people know this. Last month they decided to allot the sum of NIS 600 to everyone who had had work in Israel and was now sitting at home for the fifth month in a row. The distribution of this money was conducted carelessly and aroused many complaints. Many people clustered at the points where the money was doled out and demonstrated bitterly. They said, they're making fools of us, NIS 600 is a joke, look how the cabinet members are living, the directors-generals and the generals.

All this is leading in the direction of an escalation in the incidents and a breakdown of the regime. Some of the Palestinian cities and areas are cut off from one another. In some of them, the situation is approaching anarchy. In Bethlehem, for example, the local economy, which was based on tourism, has collapsed completely. Many people who had invested heavily in tourism installations have incurred huge losses. Residents are saying that an atmosphere of lawlessness prevails there. A similar fate may be expected in all the territories - and what will come in place of the crumbling Palestinian regime?


By Amos Harel
Ha'aretz Military Correspondent

"In Palestinian cities groups of armed young men operate. An Islamic Jihad poster shows a fighter blowing up an Israeli bus, while children wave a Jihad flag in Gaza City this week."

[Ha'aretz - 16 February]: Israeli security officials believe that the recent spiral of violence in the territories reflects Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's inability to control events there. Wednesday's lethal bus terror attack, which claimed eight Israeli lives, along with the current wave of violence in the territories, bear witness to a "process of collapse within the Palestinian Authority," these officials claim.

Though the attacks are not orchestrated by Arafat directly, the PA Chairman is doing little to prevent them, and inflammatory comments made by Arafat and other top PA officials encourage renewed violence, the Israeli officials contend.

Officers of the Israel Defense Forces identify a kind of competition between two PA strongmen on the West Bank: Fatah leader Marwan Barguthi and intelligence services head Tawfiq Tirawi have been vying with one another in an effort to spearhead violent strikes against IDF soldiers and settlers. Meantime, Palestinian security forces are doing nothing to thwart terror strikes against Israeli targets, and several top PA security officials have been personally involved in planning such strikes.

High-ranking IDF officers who are currently deployed in the territories believe that the political leadership must toughen the retaliatory measures it uses against the PA. They contend that the IDF will be able to flex more muscle in the territories once PA security men are classified as enemies, since such a redefinition would enable Israeli security forces to strike against these Palestinians at any time - and not only in retaliation for shots fired at IDF soldiers or settlers. These IDF officers also want to receive clearance for entry into certain parts of area "A," under full PA control.


If Palestinian attacks continue, the future government of Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon will be faced with a dilemma: Would it or would it not be wise to speed up the process of the Palestinian Authority's collapse?

By Ze'ev Schiff

[Ha'aretz - 16 February]: If Palestinian attacks continue, the future government of Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon will be faced with a dilemma: Would it or would it not be wise to speed up the process of the Palestinian Authority's collapse?.A little while ago, people in Israel began asking whether the PA's collapse would be of any benefit to Israel or whether it would, in fact, just provide another set of headaches. Now, the question being asked in this country is whether the PA's existence in its present form is an asset to Israel or the source of the country's problems.

The collapse of the PA could take various forms and should not necessarily be seen solely in terms of its loss of control over its security services. The Palestinian leadership will continue to be in control of security, but its governmental activity in all other fields could wind up vanishing into thin air. The leadership could, for example, halt such activities as the payment of salaries to public sector workers or the collection of taxes from residents. At the same time, if the clout of gangs increases and the crime rate rises, the system of law and order in the PA could be seriously undermined. The worst scenario, however, would be the collapse of food supply systems in the PA.

The PA's demise would likely be gradual, with the pace of deterioration varying from one region to the next. There are signs that such a process has already begun. There are, in effect, two Palestinian Authorities today. One of them exists in the Gaza Strip, where the main mechanisms of power are to be found. The second, which is isolated from the first, operates in the West Bank. PA Chairman Yasser Arafat has not set foot in Ramallah since the start of the Al Aqsa Intifada. While it is much easier for Arafat to enter and leave the Gaza Strip, perhaps the true reason for this is that he's afraid Israel would prevent him from leaving the West Bank.

So far, no in-depth debate has been conducted on whether the PA's collapse would be in Israel's best interests. The issue has been raised in a sporadic fashion and outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak has himself admitted that the issue has not been sufficiently clarified. Nonetheless, the comments of senior Israeli leaders indicate unambiguously that the prevailing opinion today is that Israel should not do anything that risks speeding up the PA's collapse. This is the predominant position within military intelligence, the Shin Bet internal security service and is, of course, supported by Major General Yaakov Or, Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. This is also the prevailing view in the National Security Council, headed by Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan.

Each defense expert has a different reason for taking this position. There are those who explain that, if Israelis are expecting another leader to succeed Arafat in the event of the PA's collapse, there is no guarantee that the new leader would be any better for the peace process. Others explain that the collapse of the PA would produce anarchy in the territories - a situation that would not be in Israel's best interests. Still another explanation is that, if the PA collapses, Israel would not be able to conduct any form of dialogue with the Palestinians on political or security issues - or, for that matter, even on basic, humanitarian questions. Israel would then be forced to maintain sporadic contacts with this or that senior Palestinian officer or leader on local issues. Under such circumstances, no one could promise that any agreement worked out with a local military or civilian leader would be worth very much. That would be an extremely undesirable situation for Israel, and a catastrophic one for its Palestinian neighbors, many of whom dread the negative ramifications of the PA's collapse, despite their harsh criticism of Israel's actions.

The situation facing Israel today - and the word "today" should be emphasized - requires the continued existence of the PA as an entity to which various demands can be made. If Israel decides to undertake actions aimed at speeding up the PA's collapse, it will be held responsible for the unwelcome state of affairs that is likely to follow. On the other hand, Israel has reached a point where it needs to avoid any measures aimed at bolstering the PA's position. Israel should halt any activities that could reinforce the PA's position economically and - certainly - politically. A willingness to help strengthen the PA's position was official Israeli policy until very recently.

In line with that policy, Barak even instructed the top brass in the Israel Defense Forces to avoid uttering anything that could lead to Arafat's delegitimization.

If the writing is on the wall for the PA, then it would be better that the PA fall apart without any external assistance. In any event, it is quite possible that the PA's collapse is inevitable, given the Palestinians' well-known tendency towards self-destruction.

February 2001


(February 27, 2001)
Was it the Likud Party, or the Labor Party, that authorized more illegal settlements in the occupied territories since the Gulf War and the Madrid Peace Conference?

(February 26, 2001)
For those who still needed proof of the cravenness and duplicity of Israel's Labor Party, the party that spawned "Peace Now" and "Oslo" among other gross deceptions, it came today.

Defectors say Iraq tested Nuclear Bomb
(February 25, 2001)
When Iraq was more overtly building nuclear weapons, the Israelis struck in 1981 destroying the Osirak reactor near Baghdad that could have provided the crucial processed uranium fuel.

"Go back, we don't want you"
(February 24, 2001)
General Colin Powell, now combining even more closely than usual the Pentagon with the State Department, was afraid to go to Gaza; and rightly so.

The Hebron MASSACRE - 7 long years ago
(February 24, 2001)
Abraham's dysfunctional family has had unbelieveable historical ramifications for which the focal point today is Hebron, site of Abraham's burial place, a religious site to both Jews and Muslim alike who are today quite literally at each other's throats.

Council on foreign relations help legitimize Sharon
(February 23, 2001)
The Council on Foreign Relations, New York-power elite-based but in recent years integrating more with the Washington government and corporate elite, has been for quite some time, to put it bluntly, a rather tricky and chicanery Israeli-oriented Zionist center when it comes to matters relevant to Israel.

Iraq - The great Cover-Up
(February 23, 2001)
As terrible as what the Israelis, with their superpower American ally (and European connivance), are doing to the Palestinians, what has been and is being done to the Iraqis and the Chechnyans is also truly appauling.

Arab expulsion admitted by Sharon Ally
(February 22, 2001)
One day maybe Israel -- like South Africa and Chile before it -- will have some kind of "truth finding" commission to try to purge itself of the past.

Protests in Jordan
(February 22, 2001)
If it weren't for the Hashemite Regime in today's Jordan, yesterday's Transjordan, and before that the East Bank of Palestine, the Israelis would never have been able to vanquish the Palestinian people in days past and would never be able to do to the remaining Palestinians what is happening today.

Powell and Sharon - Street protests?
(February 21, 2001)
Clearly, the US is rushing to court unpopularity across the world, contrary to expectations that the Bush national security establishment would conduct itself with a degree of sophistication.

"This is only the beginning"
(February 21, 2001)
The crippling is not just physical. Psychologically, culturally, economically, and even morally, the Palestinian people are being twisted and tortured beyond all recognition of their former selves.

Gaza Ghetto, Gaza Concentration Camp, Gaza Prison
(February 19, 2001)
For four months, the Gaza Strip has been effectively isolated from the world. Over 1 million Palestinians are caged in an area of not more than 365km2.

Locked in an Orwellian eternal war
(February 19, 2001)
President Bush Jr didn't seem so confident the other day as he told the world of the newly increased bombing of Iraq. But he made it clear that "until the world is told otherwise" the Americans are convinced they run the world and it is up to them to decide whom to bomb, whom to favor, whom to take out, whom to reward.

Arafat collapsing
(February 16, 2001)
The Arafat Regime is collapsing. Here are some of the details, twisted somewhat of course because the reports are from Israel's best newspaper, Ha'aretz, in view of the fact that Palestinian and Arab news sources are unable and unwilling to provide such insights.

The realization, "perhaps the dream"
(February 16, 2001)
Out of the cycle of violence the gradual, hesitant understanding - perhaps the dream - will grow, that the only way is through a struggle to create a land of Israel/Palestine that is undivided in both physical and human terms, pluralistic and open; a land in which civilized relations, human touch, intimate coexistence and a link to a common homeland would be stronger than militant tribalism and the separation into national ghettoes.

"Collective suicide" or Zionism united?
(February 15, 2001)
If there is a national unity government, it will be evident that the differences between Labour as the main branch of the left and the Likud as the main branch of the right are not that big.

Death and assissination
(February 14, 2001)
It didn't take long for the Israelis, now Sharon-led, to start creating the escalating provocations that will then bring about still more Palestinian rage which will then give the Israelis the excuse they seek to pulverize the Palestinians still harder, possibly destroying the regime they earlier created, and possibly leading to another Palestinian "nakbah" (disaster).

Israelis strike, Palestinians without strategy
(February 13, 2001)
The Israelis have had a long-term strategy for a very long time; and they have pursued it regardless of what party was in power and who happened to be Prime Minister of the moment.

Dozens of Palestinians wounded
(February 12, 2001)
Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians in the West Bank Monday as Israel's rightwing Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon sought to forge a unity government.

"Holy war" is forever
(February 12, 2001)
Fifty four years ago when an international commission of that day was hearing from Jews and Arabs about what the new U.N. should do about Palestine there was testimony from very credible and very establishment Jewish Zionist sources opposing creation of a "separatist Jewish State" precisely because it would bring about an unending conflict with the Palestinian Arab population.

War preparations continue
(February 11, 2001)
The Arafat Regime, the "Authority", is near collapse -- not just financially, but credibility wise as well. The Israeli government is near "unity" -- with General Sharon in charge.

The PA is about to collapse
(February 10, 2001)
How ironic history can be. After generations of struggle and such suffering the regime that rules the Palestinians is now in the hands of Ariel Sharon representing Israel, the U.S. Congress representing the financial levers of the American Empire, and the European governments which in this situation operate on the pretense that they are better than either of the above.

Rocking Israel to its Biblical core
(February 9, 2001)
Well if King David was a nebbish (modern translation might be "nerd"), one has to wonder how history will record Ariel Sharon, the man with such a past whom the Jews of Israel have just overwhelming elected their leader.

Sharon maneuvers for starting position
(February 9, 2001)
It's time for serious political confusion and disinformation now. As the armies prepare themselves for the clashes likely to come in one form or another, the politicians maneuver for new starting positions.

Clinton pardoned Mossad spy for Israelis
(February 9, 2001)
The Israelis adore Bill Clinton, as all the pollsters know. Deep down even the common everyday Israelis know he was their man in the White House.

The many crimes of Ariel Sharon
(February 8, 2001)
Some incorrigible optimists have suggested that only a right-wing extremist of the notoriety of Likud leader Ariel Sharon will have the credentials to broker any sort of lasting settlement with the Palestinians.

Sharon wastes no time - Arafat bows
(February 7, 2001)
We will give him the benefit of the doubt. If he comes with good ideas that will bring us closer to the peace process, why not? The world has seen many such situations before.

Holy war for Jerusalem
(February 7, 2001)
We're on the way now to a new and expanded struggle, maybe even a religious war, Jerusalem the focalpoint.

The cold logic of Sharon
(February 7, 2001)
Many Israelis just stayed home. Others cast a blank vote. But a considerable minority thrust Ariel Sharon into the greatest electoral landslide in that country's history -- obviously as well an overwhelming majority of those who did vote.

Sharon wins and Peres wants in
(February 6, 2001)
He may be a brutish thug, he may fit the definition of war criminal, he may be a Jewish racist -- but now he is also the Prime Minister-elect of Israel, overwhelmingly swept into power in a way few imagined possible just a year ago.

All sides now committed to escalation
(February 6, 2001)
Now the real craziness begins. The Palestinians are committed to heating things up to demonstrate their resolve and their capabilities. The Israelis are committed to "stopping the violence" which means clamping the boot down on the Palestinians even more harshly.

The legacy of Ariel Sharon
(February 5, 2001)
This is a place of filth and blood which will forever be associated with Ariel Sharon. In Israel today, he may well be elected prime minister.

BBC casts doubt of Pan AM convictions
(February 5, 2001)
In advance of whatever the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is going to produce as "evidence" of innocence today, the BBC has published the following story quoting the very Scottish law professor who arranged the trial in The Netherlands casting great doubt about the veracity of the verdict reached:

What's left of Israel's left
(February 5, 2001)
What's left of Israel's left is in a fractured and demoralized state of affairs. Not only is Ariel Sharon about to become Israel's Prime Minister, but in all likelihood he is to be swept into power tomorrow in a landslide unprecedented in Israel's history.

The Pan Am 103 Verdict
(February 3, 2001)
The papers are filled with pictures of happy relatives of the victims of the 1988 bombing of PanAm 103. A Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, was just found guilty of the bombing by a Scottish court in the Hague, his co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, being acquitted... What's wrong is that the evidence against Megrahi is thin to the point of transparency.

Rivers of blood
(February 2, 2001)
The bloodiness and racism of Sharon's past is fact. And these two articles help bring that past forward to the present.

Waiting for Sharon
(February 2, 2001)
They believe a Sharon victory will be a boon for their cause. 'He will expose the true face of Israel,' says an activist in Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement in Nablus, 'and force the world, including the US, to address its real responsibilities to the peace process...

Israeli Arabs boycott Barak, await Sharon
(February 1, 2001)
As the extreme right-wing revolution in Israel nears, as Ariel Sharon and friends prepare to take over political power, the "Israeli Arab vote" will not be enough to save Ehud Barak, and in fact it will not even be mobilized on his behalf this time, though Yasser Arafat and his friends have surely tried.

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