Irak, Medio Oriente y Asia
El Señor Arafat Gana De Nuevo
Analí T.B., especial para P.I.
The Washington Post
Mr. Arafat Wins Again
September 17, 2003
MANY Palestinians now understand that Yasser Arafat will never lead them to statehood through a peace agreement with Israel. For more than a year, a rebellion against the septuagenarian leader has been brewing in the legislature of the Palestinian Authority. During the summer, a majority were prepared to support a government under Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, whose explicit purpose was to strip Mr. Arafat of his authority over security forces and negotiations with Israel. So it might appear that a move by Israel to kill Mr. Arafat or expel him from the country could aid those reformist Palestinians and make a new peace process possible. In fact, as events of recent days have demonstrated, it would more likely do the opposite.
After suicide bombers struck in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv last week the Israeli cabinet formally resolved to "remove" Mr. Arafat by expulsion or assassination, but postponed any action. The decision was a bad compromise between the hard-line sentiments of the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the opposition of the Bush administration, which worries about the potential backlash in the Muslim world, including Iraq. The result has been another demonstration of the counterproductive effects of Israeli action against a man who for decades has been the symbol of Palestinian aspirations. Mr. Arafat has enjoyed an outpouring of support both at home and abroad, while his critics have been silenced. Ahmed Qureia, a veteran peace negotiator who was seeking to form a new reformist cabinet after Mr. Abbas's recent resignation, has frozen his efforts. Mr. Arafat has been so emboldened that he has launched his own purported peace initiative, seizing the diplomatic ground from which Israel and the Bush administration had excluded him.
Neither Israel nor the United States could be expected to take Mr. Arafat's proposals seriously, considering his lies and broken commitments over the past decade. The only appropriate response is to reiterate that Palestinians must choose a new leadership and commit themselves to ending violence and negotiating peace before they can expect cooperation from Israel and support from the West. And Palestinians themselves must carry out this change. It is painful for supporters of a peace settlement on all sides to endure Mr. Arafat's obstructionism and to contemplate that it could endure for years to come, while both Israelis and Palestinians continue to die in senseless violence. But intervention by Israel, either to expel or kill Mr. Arafat, will only postpone the day when a positive change in Palestinian leadership can occur.