Arafat Retaliates for Beirut Slight by Murdering Israelis

The Palestinians’ latest murderous outrage against Israelis sitting down for the Passover Seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya was a typical gesture by Yasser Arafat. Confined in Ramallah for three months and slighted by the Arab heads of state – who refused to broadcast his speech live to the opening session of the Arab League summit in Beirut Wednesday, March 27 – he decided if he could not be there in person, his deeds as a super terrorist would steal the show.
Accordingly, 20 Israelis and tourists were blown to bits around the traditional festival settings at the Park Hotel in the Mediterranean resort town of Netanya.
By a cruel paradox, the unseen level of American diplomacy chalked up a substantial success in Beirut, in the form of the non-attendance of more than half of the heads of state of Arab League members and Arafat’s absence from the conference.
debkafile, with the help of its sources in Washington, Jerusalem, Cairo and the Persian Gulf, takes a look at the hidden layers of US Middle East diplomacy, as carried forward by vice president Richard Cheney in his regional tour earlier this month.
That trip was no charm offensive to woo Arab support for the American Iraqi offensive. It aimed at separating supporters from opponents and demonstrating that the former were quantitatively and qualitatively the majority. The Europeans were also shown that sitting on the fence, as urged by the EU foreign affairs executive Javier Solana, is unacceptable to Washington.
With these goals in mind, Cheney trained his sights on two trend-setting Arab leaders, both actively working to defeat American goals:: Saudi crown prince Abdullah bin Abdelaziz and Palestinian Authority chairman, Yasser Arafat.
At the demand of the crown prince, in league with Iraq and Iraq, America quietly began pulling up its military stakes in the oil kingdom two weeks ago, removing its commands, air units and military personnel from Prince Sultan air base, the biggest US facility in Saudi Arabia, to Qatar.
Arafat, for his part, is spearheading the militant-terrorist camp’s anti-American intelligence and subversive thrust in the Middle East for himself, as well as on behalf of Iran, Iraq, the Hizballah and al Qaeda.
The de facto Saudi ruler threw Washington a sop, in the form of his reasonable-sounding “peace initiative”, selecting the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as his international launching pad. Abdullah’s idea, while gaining momentum on the way to the Beirut summit, was heralded in some places and occasioned bitter feuding among Arab leaders.
As for Arafat, the Bush administration selected a military man, former Marines general Zinni to go over and try and check the escalating Palestinian-Israel violence.
The Bush administration, which for months now has been under no illusion about Arafat’s terror machine and its close ties with Iran, Iraq, the Hizballah and al Qaeda, did not expect him to cooperate in Zinni’s ceasefire effort. They knew the trilateral security meetings chaired by the US envoy were a waste of time and that the Palestinians would block any bridging formula for implementing the Tenet ceasefire plan or the peace proposal worked out by the panel led by former Senator George Mitchell. At best, the Palestinian leader would send his security officers to take their seats at the sessions, without for one moment abating his terror offensive designed to stage by stage devitalize Israel and humble the United States. The retired general was thought to have strong enough nerves to stay the course – even in view of what happened under cover of his mission.
debkafile‘s intelligence sources reveal that, while Arafat and Zinni eyed each other glumly in Ramallah, the Palestinian leader secretly sent hundreds of Palestinians from the West Bank and the refugee camps of Jordan and Lebanon for guerrilla warfare and anti-air missile training in Hizballah’s Jenata camp in the LebaneseBeqaaValley. Their instructors: Iranian Revolutionary Guards experts in anti-air missile operation. The Iranian ayatollahs rate Arafat’s guerrilla force program – alongside his campaign of terror – highly enough to assign its management to the Revolutionary Guards top anti-air combat specialist, Brig.-Gen Ali Reza Tamizr.
US and Israeli intelligence, as well as Zinni, were in no doubt that if Arafat were allowed to travel to Beirut, he would use the opportunity for a secret visit to the Jenata facility and talks with the Iranian general.
These revelations make nonsense of the two policy goals bannered officially in Washington, namely lending wings to the Saudi peace initiative and assuring Arafat’s presence at the Arab summit. US policy-makers were after the opposite goals: the humiliation of Abdullah and his “peace plan” in the eyes of the Arab world and at home; and preventing Arafat from getting together with Iranian, Hizballah and al Qaeda strategists in Lebanon, to promote their common subversion and terror campaigns in Israel and in pro-US Arab capitals.
The Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s wavering on the question of Arafat’s travel was meant to keep everyone guessing. The last word did not come from Jerusalem, but Washington.
When the Saudi crown prince prepared to present his peace plan to his Arab confreres, he discovered the effect of the Cheney tactic of separating the pros from the antis. The largest number of Arab leaders was absent. He found himself flanked only by King Mohammed V of Morocco, President Bashar Assad of Syria, and the presidents of Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen – six heads of state out of 22. And of those six, the Moroccan and Yemen rulers had US bases and forces in their countries. Eleven heads of state were absent, including the key rulers of Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Kuweit, Mauritanian, Qatar, the UAE and Sudan.
Libya’s Qaddafi the Iraq’s Saddam Hussein gave the summit a miss.
The Arab summit, intended as a landmark of Arab unity, was in fact a high-profile embodiment of division. Abdullah was cheated of his ambition to launch himself as the leader of an important world bloc and strong successor to the ailing king Fahd.
Abdullah took his revenge for the American ambush by appending a clause to his initiative, acknowledging the 1948 Palestinians’ right to return to their homes, the death knell for the entire initiative.
Arafat was denied a pan-Arab endorsement for his campaign of terror and had to make do with sending the PLO foreign minister Farouk Kaddumi to meet Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the Hizballah, which occupies a place of honor on the American list of targeted terrorist organizations. That slap in the face to Washington was to have been followed by an address by Arafat crowing over his success in forcing the US envoy Zinni to bargain for Palestinian concessions, while continuing to practice terrorism and hobnob with terrorist leaders targeted by Washington.
The Lebanese hosts, while demonstratively lining up with the Arab extremists, quickly adjusted to their downfall by refusing the Palestinian leader the chance to broadcast his speech live to the summit opening via satellite. Arafat ordered the Palestinian delegation to quit the conference hall.
They were quickly followed by the Saudi group – both in high dudgeon and in response to the risk of terrorist attacks on the conference that abruptly spiraled with the Palestinian walkout.
Thus far, America’s diplomatic tactics have come up trumps. But nothing has changed in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, which since the Netanya outrage, is on the brink of explosion, or in the odds facing the coming US attack on Iraq. Two major confrontations therefore lie ahead.

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