|Israel Resource Review
||6th January, 2003
Does Arafat have an American
Diplomatic Correspondent, Yediot Aharonot
It is safe to assume that Yasser Arafat did not wait last night anxiously for the decision of the Israeli political echelon, which convened in the Prime Minister's Bureau in Tel Aviv last night to decide on Israel's response to the terror attack at the old bus station in Tel Aviv.
Arafat has an American insurance policy, a presidential policy that no
harm will come to him until after the war in Iraq.
Three out of the four people who were summoned to the meeting with
Sharon last night support expelling Arafat: Foreign Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu believes that the conflict with the Palestinians would already be
behind us had Israel expelled Arafat and his top advisers a year ago
already, for example, by means of landing them in Lebanon on board a
helicopter. That is also the opinion of Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and
Finance Minister Silvan Shalom.
Prime Minister Sharon's hands are tied on the question of dealing with
the Palestinian leader more than his ministers' are. Let us assume that his
adviser were to whisper to him to make a decision to exile Arafat now, and
thereby divert public attention away from the damage of the police
investigation into Likud corruption on the eve of elections. But Sharon
will not heed that advice for two reasons: firstly, because he is not
prepared to take political calculations into account when making
diplomatic-security decisions. Secondly, Sharon made a commitment to
President Bush to show restraint in Israel's responses to Palestinian
And if one wants to find another reason why Arafat can be at ease we
will remind you that today a team of senior Israeli officials will arrive
at the White House in Washington to discuss the special aid package request
of USD 12 billion-four billion as a grant and eight billion as loan
Anyone who asks Uncle Sam for huge sums like that has to behave just the
way Bush expects. It is reasonable to assume that the three ministers will
not pressure Sharon into making any far-reaching decisions such as an
attack on Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus or the occupation of the
Netanyahu has been careful not to push for extreme measures: he is aware
of the difficult situation Sharon is in because of the reports about the
involvement of his sons, Omri and Gilad, in the Likud scandals. Netanyahu
has already picked up the scent of his chance to take Sharon's place sooner
than anyone might have thought.
Mofaz believes that Arafat's day will come, even if it takes some time.
That is why the defense minister will recommend that the IDF continue with
its policy of proactive measures to prevent terror attacks, that we grit
our teeth and deal with the root of the problem-Arafat-in another few
months. Mofaz believes there is a single scenario that could change that
decision: in the event of a massive terror attack prior to the American
campaign in Iraq, a situation could evolve in which Arafat would be
expelled from Ramallah.
Political officials last night began to question whether the resumption
of terror attacks in city centers would tip the scales in any given
direction in the few remaining weeks until elections. The answers to those
questions were not unequivocal, but it seems that the scandals in the Likud
in the course of this past year will overshadow every other story.
This appeared in Yediot Aharonot on January 6, 2002
friendly version of this article
Return to Contents
the Israel Resource
The Israel Resource Review is brought to you by
the Israel Resource, a media firm based at the Bet Agron Press Center in
Jerusalem, and the Gaza Media Center under the juristdiction of the Palestine
You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.