No Forced Exile for Arafat – Yet

Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon came marching into an urgent cabinet meeting called on Thursday, September 11, over the latest terrorist crisis and Palestinian threats of escalation, determined not to give into ministers’ and popular demands to deport Yasser Arafat.
debkafile‘s political sources report he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket as the session began and told the worried ministers in effect: There is nothing I want to hear from any of you. I have drafted my own resolution and you will approve it. What he read out was this: “Arafat is an obstacle to peace and Israel will take action to create the conditions for his removal.” The ministers were not told what conditions, how the “obstacle” was to be removed or when. Some read the text as a recipe for Arafat’s deportation; others for doing nothing at all. None had any idea what they had voted for.
In exactly the same way, last July, the prime minister forced through the Israeli cabinet a list of several hundred jailed Palestinians whom he had decided to release as a gesture of goodwill to the Palestinian ex-prime minister Mahmoud Abbas.
This week, the same ministers discovered they had approved a list that contained at least three ticking bombs – two suicide killers from Rantis village near Ramallah who on Tuesday, September 9, murdered 8 soldiers at Tsrifin and 7 civilians at Jerusalem’s popular Cafe Hillel, injuring close to 100 others. Number three was their controller, Luay Barghouti, whose kinsman, West Bank Fatah secretary Marwan Barghouti, is on trial before an Israeli court for ordering the murder of 23 Israelis.
Arafat seized on the PR gift presented him by the Israeli cabinet. Surrounded by media crews, he grabbed a microphone and shouted: “I’m not moving from here!” His followers took to the streets to shake their fists.
Aside from the ado about nothing, does Sharon’s game plan? After all, Israelis have been reduced to a nightmare existence of constantly looking over their shoulders for Palestinian suicide killers who could be lurking at any street corner, school, bus or shopping center, restaurant or park.
What was behind the sudden stationing of Israeli commandos and lookouts Thursday on tall buildings around Arafat’s government headquarters in Ramallah? Twenty-four hours later, they climbed down and left.
According to debkafile‘s intelligence and counter-terror sources, the explanation is this: Israel is finally going to start hitting the men at the hard core of Palestinian terror, the terror chiefs assembled under Arafat’s wing at his own offices in Ramallah. Until now, Israeli counter-terror operations focused on the Islamist groups, the Hamas and to a lesser degree the Jihad Islami. The Fatah, Tanzim, al Aqsa Martyrs’ (Suicides) Brigades were barely scratched and the group sheltering in Arafat’s headquarters left untouched.
The first actions may begin next week. Their initial targets will be three men who appear on a select Israeli list of 13 wanted terrorists.
They are Kemal Ghanem, Khaled Shawasha and Jamil Tirawi – cousin of the notorious terror master Tawfiq Tirawi.
They will be informed that their names have been added to the dark catalogue of Hamas terror activists relentlessly targeted for assassination. Wherever they may be, Arafat will no longer be able to protect them.
The remaining 10 wanted terrorists will be taken out next.
In the course of this offensive, Sharon intends to open talks with Washington to persuade George W. Bush that there is no other way but to remove Arafat bodily from the country. He will hold up the example of Liberia’s ex-president Charles Taylor whose exit the United States demanded as the pre-condition for military and political assistance. If Bush were to declare that all US involvement in the Palestinian-Israel conflict is placed on hold until Arafat is gone, the Palestinian leader may go into voluntary exile. In other words, Sharon has concluded that exile cannot be forced on the Palestinian leader by Israel or the Americans; he must leave of his own volition. The prime minister has confided to his close aides his belief that this may happen when Arafat sees Israeli knocking over his company of terrorist activists one by one, just as the Hamas is being shorn of its active terrorist operatives.
debkafile‘s terror experts are far from certain that Sharon’s newest stratagem will work. Taylor may have been persuaded it was time to leave, but Saddam Hussein turned down an American pre-war offer to go into exile and save himself and his family. Arafat is made of the same hard substance.

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