US-Israeli Sword over Arafat
Eight years after US President Clinton engineered the Oslo Peace Framework Accord installing the exiled Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with self-determination for his people, George W. Bush has taken the lead in the effort to end his reign.
The Palestinian may try last-resort maneuvers, but he cannot escape the joint American-Israel sword poised over his head. Neither can he hope for any world leader to reach out and rescue him. Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres and his dwindling pro-Oslo adherents may try, but they will do so in isolation.
In the diplomatic flurry surrounding this terminal process, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon sent a secret envoy to Cairo Wednesday night with a personal message to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The response was immediate: Egyptian foreign minister Ali Maher was dispatched to Jerusalem Thursday for urgent talks with the Israeli prime minister. Maher, after meeting foreign minister Shimon Peres, is to call on Arafat in Ramallah and goes on to Amman for talks with King Abdullah.
debkafile‘s political sources reveal that Sharon’s messenger was Shin Beit Director Avi Dichter, who also set up the prime ministers’ White House talks with Bush Sunday, December 2, that laid the groundwork for the current rush of diplomatic and military events. Our sources add: Both the Egyptian and Jordanian rulers, appreciating that Arafat’s days as an effective leader are numbered, have moved forward to deliberations with Israel on the post-Arafat order.
President Bush’s strong and resolute stance against Arafat goes beyond his pledge of support for Sharon’s fight to the finish against Palestinian terror. Firstly, the Bush team openly brand Arafat a cheat and liar and will not forgive him for mocking General Anthony Zinni’s truce mission by blowing up the most brutal Palestinian terrorist assault ever in his face.
But, most of all, Bush knows that government leaders the world over, especially in the Middle East, are watching to see how he follows through on his decisions.
In this important respect, the Afghanistan war will be strongly influenced by America’s handling of Arafat.
Additional potential American targets, such as Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, will be monitoring the US President’s every move regarding Arafat’s fate. Whatever the Palestinian leader may decide – a final, desperate round of terror strikes, or submission to America’s demands – or even one of his cunning blends of the two – in the eyes of the Arab world and his own people, he is a goner.