DEBKAfile Special Report, www.debka.com
30 July: On July 29, Yasser Arafat posed with Rev. Jesse Jackson in Ramallah before cameras and roundly condemned “suicide terrorism”.
But as soon as Jackson left, he vented his real feelings for Americans of any stripe with a series of contemptuous actions - all aimed at undermining the credibility of the US-sponsored reform program for cleansing the Palestinian administration of terrorist and corrupt elements.
First, his Fatah was ordered to execute a fresh wave of terrorist attacks - three in 12 hours, leaving two Israelis dead and seven injured.
Tuesday morning, masked Fatah terrorists waylaid and shot at close quarters two Israelis who drove a fuel truck into the Palestinian village of Jama’in south of Nablus; before dawn, a terrorist armed with two knives attacked a sleeping couple in Itamar, south of Nablus. The couple were injured but survived the attack by fighting back and stabbing their assailant. Later that morning, a suicide bomber entered a falafel kiosk on Jerusalem’s Haneviim Street and blew up a bomb he carried in his knapsack, injuring five passers-by.
Second, while executing this cycle of terror, Arafat acted to put back to square one key steps in the reform program advanced by the United States and seconded by the European Union.
He arbitrarily swept aside the police and security appointments made by the new Palestinian interior minister Gen. Abdel Razek Yahya, claiming they were unauthorized, and reinstated seven security officers the new man fired because of their records in orchestrating suicide campaigns. Arafat’s move left the pro-American interior minister humiliated and stripped of powers for setting up the single security force mandated in the reform program to replace the dozen forces dedicated to Arafat and his terrorist assaults.
Rather than face an empty office, Yahya announced he was leaving forthwith for Amman to join his family. He also dropped out of the Palestinian delegation invited to meet secretary of state Colin Powell next week. Washington thereupon called off the delegation, unwilling to receive Arafat’s henchmen, Palestinian negotiator Saab Arikat and Economy Minister Maher al-Masri, without the new faces presaging a post-terror era.
Third, Arafat followed this up with an announcement that he does not recognize Gen. Yahya as interior minister. He added that he does not need Egyptian and Jordanian instructors to come and train the new security force’s men, under the training program approved by the US and EU.
Fourth, in another move calculated to throw the reform program back in Washington’s face, Arafat pointedly humiliated the second pro-American, reform minister, Salam Fayyad, who was named to the Palestinian finance portfolio. Monday, July 29, when Arafat received the EU Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos in Ramallah, he was attended demonstratively - not by the new minister but by his own appointee, Maher al-Masri, once against cutting the authority out from under the feet of a pro-reform minister.
This was Arafat’s reply to Fayyad’s request for a financial accounting of the Palestinian Authority Chairman’s office (as reported earlier in DEBKAfile).
European leaders, however much they may condemn terrorist violence, are loath to stigmatize its authors. Moratinos did not take amiss Arafat’s anti-reform gesture, any more than French President Jacques Chirac is prepared to treat the Lebanese Hizballah, Arafat’s allies, as a terrorist group. Monday, he turned away a request by Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres for the EU to place the Hizballah on its list of terrorist organizations, considering the danger that the group’s provocations could destabilize the entire region. Chirac dodged the request on the pretext that the Hizballah has a political-social wing in addition to its “military forces” which carries out “important work in Lebanon”.
As things stand now, therefore, the Hizballah is free to launch several cross-border shelling attacks per week, while Yasser Arafat continues to throw the terror switch off or on at will.
The Shin Beth Director Avi Director submitted to the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee Tuesday, July 30, a grim summing up of the violent campaign of terror Arafat has waged against Israel for the last 22 months. The death toll has reached 585 Israelis and 1,547 Palestinians. Many died in the 139 suicide murders and massacres perpetrated in that period, of which the Hamas was responsible for 51, Arafat’s Fatah for 42, Jihad Islami for 31 (5 in collusion with Fatah) and the PFLP for 5.
Israeli military incursions into Palestinian towns on the West Bank since April have thwarted an additional 138 potential suicide murders, which would have doubled the deadly score had they been carried out. In the first half of this week, the Palestinians carried out 16 terrorist attacks. Sixty suicide bomber alerts are still in force.