Oslo 1993 Revisited by… Sharon and Mubarak

Yasser Arafat is hopping mad with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for trying to go behind his back and revive the Palestinian preventive security services of the Gaza Strip and West Bank under their former chiefs, respectively Muhammed Dahlan in the Gaza Strip and, with rather less authority on the West Bank, Jibril Rajib, Arafat’s very own national security adviser. This time round, Mubarak and his intelligence minister, General Omar Suleiman, want the two powerful services created under the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords to function under Cairo’s control. The pair of Palestinian security men, at daggers drawn for years, have been ordered to present themselves in the Egyptian capital for a reconciliation and briefing. (Only recently, Jibril remarked, “Everyone knows Dahlan is an Israeli agent.”)
debkafile‘s Palestinian sources report that when Arafat heard Dahlan’s request for permission to go to Cairo, instead of replying, he called an urgent Palestinian leadership midnight meeting Sunday night, May 30. Summoned were government members, heads of his own Fatah and representatives of the Hamas, the Jihad Islami, and the radical Popular and Democratic Fronts. Arafat rammed through the session a resolution banning any action without the authority of the “elected Palestinian leadership,” i.e. Arafat in person.
These developments, the outcome of Egypt’s increasing involvement in the affairs of the Palestinian Authority and its steps for limiting Arafat’s powers, were discussed in a telephone call Monday night, May 31, between Mubarak and Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.
Our intelligence sources note that the news of Cobra rocket-propelled grenades, products of Egypt’s armaments industry, turning up in the Gaza Strip, was deliberately leaked after it was revealed by an Israeli military intelligence officer to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Monday.
The fact is that Gaza Strip Palestinians bristle with every kind of anti-tank weapon, including Egyptian RPGs. They may well have been smuggled into the territory after being sold illegally by Egyptian troops serving in northern Sinai. Their discovery may not necessarily be a black mark against the Egyptian government. However, the information was leaked for a deliberate purpose, to highlight concern in certain Israeli security quarters over the mounting intensity of the exchanges the prime minister and his chef de bureau Dov Weisglass are conducting with the Egyptian government in order to promote Sharon’s disengagement-cum-evacuation plan. It is feared that the relationship is getting out of hand and Israel will suddenly wake up to find itself confronted on the West Bank and Gaza Strip not merely with hostile Palestinians but by an Egyptian-Palestinian front.
The defense chiefs, who briefed Sunday’s cabinet meeting on the security aspects of unilateral disengagement, were careful not voice these concerns. In any case, what worries them is not so much the Egyptian Cobras as the anti-air Strela SA-7 and Katyusha 220mm missiles stockpiled in Sinai for transportation through a smuggling tunnel to the Gaza Strip.
Foreign minister Silvan Shalom is aware of these undercurrents. He also understands why Sharon is sending him to talk to Mubarak Thursday, June 3. It is less to give him a role in the dealings with Cairo and more to separate him from the Likud anti-disengagement front led by finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a full-blown revolt against the prime minister.

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