Arafat Salutes Sharon, Surrenders Palestinians
WASHINGTON, DC — Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat rose to salute Israeli foreign minister Ariel Sharon as he entered the conference room at the Wye River Plantation to begin discussions intended to revive the stalled land for peace process begun in Oslo. In the following days, the salute would symbolize Arafat’s surrender of the Palestinians to the Israeli occupation forces, and of his legitamacy as a leader.
Under the Wye River agreement announced on October 23, for which Israel and the PLO are to receive substantial U.S. aid, Arafat agreed to step up "anti-terrorist efforts" in the West Bank, and to eliminate anti-Israel provisions in the PLO founding charter. The Israelis would cede 13 percent more of the territory on the West Bank, and release 750 of the 3000 political prisoners held without trial in Israeli jails.
Arafat’s "anti-terrorist efforts," to be monitored by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, are intended to further crackdown on Palestinians opposed to the agreement. Arafat agreed to disarm about 10,000 of the PLO police force, stifle dissident voices, and step up arrests following any attack on Israelis, or on the basis of "evidence" provided by Israel.
Whether guilty or innocent, those arrested are not likely to receive either justice or humane treatment. Amnesty International has faulted the Palestinian Authority and Israel on human rights. Associated Press, September 10, 1998, reports, "Israel and the Palestinian Authority have consistently violated human rights in the name of security in the five years since they signed their first peace agreement." There are no provisions in the Wye River agreement for the arrest of militant Israelis.
Israel will continue its policy of settlement expansion, and the demolition of Palestinian homes – a policy which has provoked retaliation by the Hamas resistance, and a further crackdown by Arafat on his own people. In the days following the Wye River agreement, Arafat’s forces muzzled Sheikh Yassin, Hamas’ spiritual leader, and arrested about 300 Hamas resistors.
The Wye River agreement gives the Palestinians little that was not already promised by Israel under the Oslo accords. Netanhayu appears to have shifted from his opposition to the Olso accords, but may be using the agreement to raise the standards to be met by the Palestinians, and has delayed Israeli troop withdrawal.
Arafat’s surrender may provoke reprisals against the Palestinian Authority. Associated Press, November 1, 1998, reported: "The (Palestinian) Authority’s security apparatus, its officials and elements, will never be safe" from Hamas’ vengeance, said a Washington leaflet faxed to news organizations that was signed by the Izzedine al Qassem brigades, Hamas’ military arm.
"Israel’s internal security service has warned Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister," according to The Sunday Times, October 25, 1998, "that a newly formed Jewish underground may try to bomb Muslim holy shrines or assassinate Arab and Israeli leaders in an effort to stop troops withdrawing from the West Bank."
President Clinton who faces impeachment hearings, and the Democratic party facing elections today, are the clear winners. Israel’s security concerns have been addressed, without addressing the security concerns of Palestinians, and any delay helps Israel establish facts on the ground which may predetermine the final outcome of the peace process.
An Israeli investigative commission found Sharon, then defense minister, responsible for the 1982 massacre by Lebanese Christian militia of about 900 men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps following Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, and the withdrawal of Palestinian guerrilla forces from the city. At the Wye River Plantation meeting last month, Sharon ignored Arafat’s salute.
[The name of the game is Hitnatkut ("cutting ourselves off"). Meaning: most of the West Bank area will become de facto a part of Israeli, and the rest we shall leave to the Palestinians, who will be enclosed in isolated enclaves. From these enclaves, the settlements will be removed.–Sharon’s Herzliyah Speech, December 18, 2003]