Friday, November 12, 2004

Misunderstanding Arafat

The Nation makes is real howler in its editorial on the death of Yassir Arafat. They write

it was Arafat who led the PLO, in the face of fierce internal resistance, into adopting the two-state solution in the mid-1970s. But his conciliatory peace offering at the UN General Assembly in 1974, and numerous subsequent peace feelers, were met with persistent rebuffs from Israel and the United States.
That this mistake is a common element of anti-Israel propoganda is no excuse. What the PLO adopted in 1974 was not a two-state solution. It was a stage solution in which the PLO committed itself to establishing a state in any part of liberated Palestine in order to continue to wage for the total destruction of Israel.

The MideastWeb has a sample of statements by Arafat and other PLO leaders

The plan foresees] "At first a small state, and with the help of Allah, it will be made large, and expand to the east, west, north and south. I am interested in the liberation of Palestine, step by step."

Abu Iyad (Salah Khalaf) interviewed in Al Anba [Kuwait] Dec. 18, 1988.

The struggle will continue until all of Palestine is liberated."

Yasser Arafat, radio address, November 1995.

"Within five years we will have 6 to 7 million Arabs living on the West Bank and in Jerusalem....If the Jews can import all kinds of Ethiopians, Russians, Uzbekians, and Ukrainians as Jews, we can import all
kinds of Arabs...We plan to eliminate the state of Israel and establish a Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. Jews will not want to live among Arabs. I have no use for Jews....We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem."

Yasser Arafat, Stockholm, 30 January, 1996, cited in Washington Times, March 3, 1996, by Cal Thomas. This quote has been disputed.

"Since the decision of the Palestinian National Council at its 12th meeting in 1974, the PLO has adopted the political solution of establishing a National Authority over any territory from which the occupation withdraws."

Yasser Arafat, quoted in Al Ayyam, January 1, 1998.

"The Oslo accord was a prelude to the Palestinian Authority, and the Palestinian Authority will be a prelude to the Palestinian state which, in its turn, will be a prelude to the liberation of the entire Palestinian land."

Abdul Asis Shaheen, PNA Minister of Supply, i Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on 4 January 1998

As far as the persistent rebuffs from the Israel and United States, this is another bit of political myth. For instance, in the late 1970s, the Carter administration wanted to initiate Middle East peace talks and asked Arafat to accept UN Resolution 242, with the PLO to add a statement insisting on Palestinian national rights and self-determination. They picked Edward Said to be the intermediary. Arafats reponse, "Edward, I want you to tell [Secretary of State Cyrus] Vance that we're not interested."

Here a couple of commentaries worth reading:

Ami Isseroof of MidEast Web

Yosi Beillen architecht of the Oslo Accords and leader of Israel's Yachad (Social Demoratic) Party.

Jonathon Edelstein

Arafat died a leader who betrayed his people's trust in the most profound way possible, and he died a humiliating death, lingering in a Paris hospital while his wife and colleagues fought over his financial and political legacy. In the end, however, the manner of his death may have been a partial atonement for the damage he has done to the Palestinian nation. Had he died in an Israeli attack, or had he died suddenly under circumstances where his succession could not be arranged, the region might have gone up in flames. As it is, he died under the eyes of French doctors who could certify that the cause of his death was natural, and his week in limbo provided time for his burial place to be negotiated and an orderly succession arranged. The chances of building something from the ruins are, if not great, at least somewhat better than they would have been had Arafat died at the Muqata.

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