Israel Resource Review 2nd February, 1999

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Arafat From Defender to Dictator
Part one of book summary
by Leah Soibel
Israel Resource Research Associate

Arafat: From Defender to Dictator
by Said Aburish
Bloomsbury Publishers, London, 1998

Born August 24, 1929 in Cairo. Named Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat Al Qudua Al Husseini.(Muhammed Abdel Rahman-first name, Abdel Raouf - father's name, Al Qudaua - grandfather's name, Al Husseini - klan name). (page 7)

1927 - The family had moved from Gaza to Cairo, after Arafat's father gained some land from a questionable law suit. (page 9)

1933 - Arafat's mother dies. Father cannot deal with seven children alone so he decides to send Arafat and his brother Fathi to their uncle Selim Abul Saoud, in Jerusalem. (page 11)

1937 - Father calls the two brothers back to Cairo to help take care of the rest of the children. Ever since than, Arafat disliked his father and never forgave him for making him leave Jerusalem. Once back in Cairo, in order to escape his father, Arafat started to visit the Al Akbar family. That is where Arafat got his Koran training, while he started running a neighborhood gang creating a small army of Muslims. Jews and Christians in the neighborhood were not allowed to join because Arafat's gang needed an enemy. (pages 13 -14)

1946 - Hajj Amin Al Husseini, Mufti of Palestine arrived in Cairo from six years of exile in Nazi Germany, along ith Adul Saoud, who was of distant relation to Arafat whom he called 'uncle.' Also, Sheikh Hassan who was a Palestinian nationalistic leader and the Mufti's chief assistant and personal advisor, had arrived in Cairo after the British exiled him.

At age 17, Arafat became the Sheikh's errand boy. Yasser did everything from personally delivering important letter from the Arab Higher Committee to visiting Arab leaders; offices of the Arab League, collected money from sympathetic donors, and reported on pro - Palestinian Arab activities in Egyptian schools and universities. (pages 15 -16)

1947 - Arafat entered King Fuad I (now Cairo University) with financial backing and a push from Sheikh Hassan, always at student political meetings and Palestinian gatherings. He began buying arms and sending them the Mufti's Arab partisans in Palestine. (page 16)

1948 - when the British left and the Arab - Israeli war broke out, Yasser and many of his classmates returned to Gaza. (page 17) He got to Palestine as a member of Al Ikhwan Al Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood). Being part of the Muslim Brotherhood at that time less disccounts what Arafat said about fighting alongside Abdel Kader Al Husseini - , a marytred military leader in Palestine and the Mufti's cousin. Abdel Kader saw the Muslim Brotherhood as the opposition.

This was when Yasser adopted the name Yasser Arafat and stopped using his given names. (Yasser bin Ammar was a celebrated Muslim warrior and companion of the prophet. By calling himself by this name, Arafat enhanced his religious credentials). Later on, Arafat also used the name Abu Ammar. Being the 'father' of someone or something showed to be an important title in Muslim society. (page 21)

1949 - Arafat returned to Cairo with fabricated stories of his heroism in the war. (He claimed he was a special military assistant to Abdel Kader during the battle of Jerusalem, except that the Muslim Brotherhood never got to the Jerusalem area). (page 18)

Arafat believed that Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq who were all involved in the 1948 war were all struck with incompetent leadership and corruption. If they would have stayed out of the war, Arafat was sure that the Palestinians would have won. (page 19)

The Arab Higher Committee of the Mufti and the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the Arab armies for not being prepared and for the corruption of the regimes, without admitting that they were guilty of the same thing.

Arafat adopted the Higher Committee's views of distinguishing efforts of groups like the Muslim Brothers from the failure of the Arab armies and he praised Arab fighters who belonged to popular movements and distinguished them from the governments of their countries. (page 20)

When Arafat returned to Cairo he joined 2 groups:

  1. Egyptian Union of Students - whose aim was to treat the causes for the 1948 defeat and punish King Farouk for it. (Membership to this group was closed to Palestinian Arabs) . (page 21)
  2. Federation of Palestinian students.

Arafat's commitment was to the Muslim Brotherhood because the Brotherhood was committed to an inclusive Islamic picture which was bigger than an Palestinian or Egyptian.

Arafat began publishing a magazine called 'The Voice of Palestine' which promised to fight the Zionist entity. He continued to help needy Palestinian students by using his contacts to get them into Egyptian universities. (page 23)

1950 - Arafat finished his first year of university, at age 22. (A former classmate said that he had to take the required math course 3 years in a row - making Arafat reluctant to discusshis higher education). (page 25)

1951 - Arafat was elected as chairman to the Federation of Palestinian Students. Meanwhile, he became friends with a Muslim Brotherhood card - carrier named Salah Khalaf - later close associate and became Abu Iyad of Fatah and the PLO. The Muslim Brotherhood supported his election because he incorporated their demands. (pages 23 - 24)

1952 - Egyptian army overthrew the monarchy and Gamal Abdel Nasser came into power. Meanwhile, Arafat's father died in Gaza. Arafat did not go to his father's funeral.

Arafat's friends and political associates of the Muslim Brotherhood were exiled to Gaza. Arafat was not exiled, because the authorities thought that he was Egyptian.(p. 28)

When Nassar came to power, Arafat went to join the fedayeen ("self - sacrificers") who raided Israel from the Egyptian controlled Gaza strip. (page 29)

1953 - Arafat was elected chairman of the larger General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) - an older organization with branches in all Arab countries. (page 23) GUPS were probably the most important Palestinian organization in the Middle East.

1953-54 Arafat applied to the University of Texas and applied to emigrate to Canada. (page 26)

1956 - Arafat finished his degree in civil engineering. He continued to chair GUPS. In August, Arafat traveled for the first time overseas to Prague to attend a meeting of the International Students' Congress, with the executive committee of GUPS. Without telling anyone, he made his first appearance in a white Kuffiya. (1936-39, the kuffiya had been the symbol of the Palestinian Arab fighters in the failed Arab revolt against the British in Palestine). Arafat recounted how he cried on the streets of Prague when he saw Israeli Jaffa oranges being sold, which he was unable to buy in either Gaza or Cairo. (page 31)

Late 1950's - The Muslim Brotherhood went to the Suez Canal zone to harass the British. Arafat went to the canal zone with units of the Muslim Brotherhood. (This was an all Egyptian affair. Other Arabs and Muslims did not participate). When the British troops decided to evacuate the canal area, Nassar decided to send all young men of Egypt for military training. Arafat was trained as an Egyptian army bomb disposal officer and finished the Suez campaign as a first lieutenant. (page 30)

1957 - The United States, United Nations, and the USSR wanted to stop the conflict in the canal zone between the Egyptians and the Israelis. The UN sent in UNEF forces as a buffer between the two. Arafat, disgusted by Nassar and UNEF presence, that he applied for a Saudi visa. After waiting months to obtain it, he decided to get a Kuwaiti visa instead and he got a job as a civil engineer with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Public Works.

In order for an outsider to secure employment in the Kuwait, depended on the sponsorship of an important citizen or company. Arafat had some influential friends because Arafat had a poor academic record and no real work experience, he had no real qualifications. Applicants for jobs in Kuwait were always thoroughly investigated. Kuwait chose to hire and grant residency to a man who did not have many qualifications and had a long history of political involvement, while at the time, its companies were employing people based on their qualifications, not their political involvement. Kuwait was then refusing to grant visas to members of the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM), the pan - Arab Ba'ath party, and many more. (pages 34-35)

Arafat and many of his Muslim Brotherhood friends moved to Kuwait because Egypt was unwelcoming and most of the other Arab countries considered them dangerous. Most of Arafat's friends secured Kuwaiti government jobs. All of Arafat's friends from the Muslim Brortherhood in Egypt and Gaza had reunited in Kuwait. Abu Iyad, Abu Jihad, Adil Abdel Karim, Mohammed Yusuf Al Najjar, Khalid Al Amira, Abdel Fatah Lahmoud - who eventually became the founding members of Fatah, had no difficulties entering Kuwait.(35)

1959 - Arafat's group in Kuwait began making their appeal to the Palestinian people.

Harakat Thrir Filastin, Arabic acronym reversed into Fatah - Koranic word for 'conquest.'

They began publishing a monthly magazine, 'Filastinuna, Nida'Al Hayat (Our Palestine, The Call of Life), shortly before they adapted the name Fatah. It was printed in Beirut without revealing the names of the editors and contributors, they only gave a PO Box number. (page 40)

The magazine was distributed in many Arab countries, yet, because of strict censorship, it did not reach Egypt and Syria. Certainly it did not reach the average Palestinian. Those who published Filistinuna, created Fatah. There is no exact date of the birth of Fatah. 1959 is commonly used. (page 40)

The magazine was edited by Abu Jihad, who had the highest educational level of the group. However, Arafat insisted on writing his own articles since he used his own money to finance the magazine. Filastinuna had a lot of passion and called for the eradication of Israel. (page 41)

Fatah called for the liberation of Palestine through an armed struggle to be carried out by the Palestinian Arabs themselves. Those Palestinians were called the Children of the Catastrophe. Fatah favored an independent Palestinian policy and wanted to arm the Palestinians in order to liberate their country. Fatah thought that liberation came before Arab unity, which in the other Arab nations, it went the other way around. Fatah's philosophy was not to expect anything from the Arab regimes. They had two strategies for dealing with political conditions in the Middle East: condemn the West for helping to create Israel and to continue to support them. Fatah lost the connection with the Muslim Brotherhood because their ideas of an Islamic identity to the Palestinian problem and the call to Jihad, were in conflict (pages 42-43)

Arafat was still upset withother Arab governments for their lack of success in 1948. He constantly used terms such as: "Violence is the only solution" and "Liberating Palestine could only take place through the barrel of a gun." He refused to acknowledge the efforts of the other Arab governments and made fun of them. Arafat always criticized Arab governments but he never wanted to alienate any of them. (page 42)

1960 - Arafat divided Fatah into cells and saw to it that no one cell or member was unaware to the activities of the rest. He got rid of doubters who questioned his authority and some he forced to resign. He used to strategic decisions to keep Fatah in existence: Arafat refused to join in Arab feuds and he detached the business of raising money from becoming politically dependant on the donors. (pages 47-48)

Arafat only accepted money that did not put constraints on his freedom of action. (page 48)

Arafat then became a guerrilla leader who also organized in Syria. Arafat placed Fatah above all of the other Palestinian groups including the PLO. He used Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria as bases where he could infiltrate Israel. (page 65)

Arafat's first target were the wealthy Palestinians who lived in oil - rich countries, the people who had an interest in promoting a conservative, independent Palestinian movement. Arafat also sought help from thousands of Palestinian professionals who were working in the Gulf. However, whoever donated did not became a member of Fatah. Arafat also received assistance from the political and powerful. The Mufti of Jerusalem, who had taken refuge in Egypt, was fearful for the success of Palestinian radical groups, so he gave money to Fatah. Arafat came in touch with members of the Kuwaiti royal family saying, that through Fatah they were increasing the chance for an armed struggle and they were contributing to Palestine. (page 49)

1961, he decided to expand his fund - raising to Qatar. At first he was unable to succeed, but he became friends with Mahmoud Abbas, who is also known as Abu Mazen of the Oslo Peace Accords. The two of them were eventually able to get large sums of unconditional contributions from the royal family in Qatar. (page 51)

After Qatar, Arafat performed the same magic touch in Libya. (page 52)

Arafat was using money received from the pro-West oil-rich Arab countries to buy arms from Communist and socialist countries. (page 56)

Arafat came in contact with Saudi Arabia's Minister of Petroleum (Ahmad Yamani), whom Arafat was able to talk into giving Fatah a substantial amount of money. By 1965, Yamani presented Arafat to Saudi King Faisal who gave Arafat millions. (pages 58-59)

1961 - in Syria, Arafat visited Syria as a representative of Fatah. Syria had just become independent, but they still considered Palestine part of Syria. The Palestinians and the Syrians were already supporting small palestinian guerrilla groups that were conducting raids on Israel. One group was the Palestinian Liberation Front. Arafat considered Syria a safe ally because they did not have enough money to buy Arafat.(53) Furthermore, there were 150,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria who acted as potential recruits for Arafat's Palestinian force. Syria had hosted numerous Palestinian political groups, but according. to former members of Fatah, there was not another group who could have competed with Arafat's financial resources. In order to recruit Palestinian fighters, Arafat offered recruits 18 sterling a month. (page 54)

By 1962, Fatah had 200-300 civilian members and no fighters. Eventually, with Arafat's bribes and salesmanship, young Palestinian refugees grabbed the chance to join Fatah. (page 55)

1962 - the success of the Algerian revolution of keeping an identity alive through reliance on Islam and the use of a guerrilla army against a stronger force, posed as a model that Arafat wanted to copy. (page 53)

By late 1962, Fatah started sending recruits to Algeria for training. Even better, in 1963, Iraq also accomodated training camps for new Fatah members. (page 55)

1963 - Fatah's headquarters were moved to Syria. First Arafat moved, disguising himself as a lowly official driving an unsuspicious car and soon the others followed. (page 53)

1964 - Fatah began regional activities. Arafat began sending infiltrators to the West Bank with Syrian approval and help. He also sent organizers to Gaza. Others went to Beirut, which at the time was the center of Middle Eastern journalism and many Palestinian intellectuals had settled there. Lebanon also contained 200,000 Palestinian refugees. (page 56)

In May, 1964, the PLO held a conference in the Intercontinetal Hotel in Jerusalem where they issued a National covenant which committed it to the idea of an armed struggle and appointed itself the representative of the Palestinian people, the guardian of their interests in the Arab world and internationally. 'Armed struggle' was not part of the original program of the PLO nor its army. (Arafat did not know whether to joint the PLO or to dissolve Fatah and disappear). Arafat did not attend the Jerusalem meeting instead he sent a delegation of a dozen Fatah members, who did not participate, they just listened. At the same meeting the Palestine National Council (PNC) was composed in a parliamentary - style body which was to control the PLO. Also under the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Army was formed. (The PNC was an elitist assembly with little support among Palestinians in refugee camps and in the West Bank and Gaza). (page 57)

Arafat was hoping to be named military commander of Fatah, but his colleagues refused to appoint him. Arafat even though disappointed, took responsibility for the training of troops. Since Arafat was responsible for training camps and the trainees, he was blamed when the Palestinian guerrilla force roved to be ineffective. (page 60)

1966 - Arafat was arrested in April for trying to blow up Tapline, the line carrying Saudi oil to the Mediterranean. Arafat had fired the man who was previously appointed Military Commander, and appointed himself to the position, no one objected. However, in May, he was suspended from the position for refusing to accept the principle of collective leadership, organizing raids on his own and misuse of funds.(62)

Arafat took the defeat of 1967 and turned it to his benefit by turning himself and his group into the symbol of Palestinian resistance and Arab rejection of the loss. (page 70)

When Arafat made his way into the West Bank under Israeli control by disguising himself, he made contact with some Fatah followers. He divided the whole region into southern, central, and northern sectors (Hebron, Jerusalem, and Nablus). He told the local Fatah members to start recruitment in their areas. However, ordinary people of the West Bank were reluctant to join him. (page 72)

Furthermore, the rich and influential Palestinian leaders wanted nothing to do with him. (page 73)

They wanted to maintain the positions of power which Jordan had given them and they did not want Fatah to take charge. They did not trust Arafat or his organization, they considered him and enemy and saw King Hussein as their protector. (page 74)

After three months of failure, Arafat decided to join his colleagues who had moved from Syria to Jordan to set up camps. (page 75)

Arafat had no success with recruiting local Palestinians and thought that he could threaten the public by eliminating those who were collaborating with Israel openly and others whom he offered bribes.

At the same time, the PLO set up the Revolutionary Command Council to

[] rival guerrilla campaign. (page 73)

organization in the name of national unity only after Fatah was promised 33 seats on the Palestine National Council (out of 10 seats) and 57 seats were given to the guerrilla groups. (page 78)

1968 - After Fatah became a member of the PLO and its most important component, Arafat invited seven guerrilla groups to join him in establishing a joint command for guerrilla action against Israel. (p. 78)

Arafat was sending groups of Palestinians to train in the Egyptian military and intelligence schools. (Five hundred volunteers from the West Bank were sent to training camps in Syria, Iraq, and Algeria). (page 78)

Special emphasis was placed on the training of educated young Palestinians from Europe and other countries. (pages 78-79)

Fatah's money raising activities in the oil-rich countries were becoming more successful than ever, while raids from Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon into Israel were increasing. (page 79)

One of the Jordanian towns, Karameh, which was located on the main road connecting the West Bank with the Jordan, was repeatedly being attacking by Israel. (page 79)

(Karameh means dignity in Arabic and its name, together with its position and the presence of the refugees, contributed to Arafat's decision to make his headquarters there with his three hundred Fatah fighters). (pages 79-80)

After the battle for Karameh, volunteers from all over the Arab world came to Jordan to join Fatah. One thousand Egyptians appeared at to Fatah offices in their country to offer their services. Small numbers of Germans, Scandinavians, French, South Americans and nationals of other non-Arab countries also joined . (page 83)

Futhermore, donations from Arab nations increased and Arafat expanded guerrilla training facilities in Syria, Iraq, Algeria and Egypt.

Meanwhile, the French government under General Charles de Gaulle had become the first major non-Arab country to accept a permanent Fatah representative. (page 90)

In Lebanon - Arafat moved hundreds of his poorly trained fighters into Lebanon where he set up a command center in the Fakhani district of Beirut. The Palestinians were creating a 'country' of their own which they named Fakhani Republic after the area in Beirut which they occupied. (pages 93-94)

In 1969, help was coming from new governments of the Sudan and Libya. Donations and offers of assistance came as far away from Pakistan and Malaysia. (page 84), while Arafat started a military program to train ten-to-thirteen yearold refugee children. (page 88)

The Damascus-based Fatah leadership was uneasy about some of Arafat's activities but they still decided to appoint him the organization's official spokesman, meaning that every item of news carried the imprint of Al Assifa (the military wing of Fatah) had to have Arafat's personal approval. (page 86)

Yet by 1968, after the battle of Karameh, some Arab governments increased their financial contributions and encouraged the collection of money for Fatah non-governmental organizations. Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other wealthy countries contributed unknown millions of dollars in direct assistance, and Arab businessmen everywhere competed with each other in their donations. (page 84), while Libya, Syria, Iraq, the USSR and China each sponsored specific groups within the PLO. (page 102)

Oil-rich states always provided him with financial support which went into funds controlled by Arafat personally. Once a Palestinian construction magnate gave the PLO $70 million, but to this day not even the dead man's family knows what happened to this money. Other smaller bequests and donations also went missing. (page 195)

Through the years, Arafat lived alone in a small apartment that the Ministry of Public Works provided. His apartment always had 2 or 3 sports cars parked in front. He liked to have many at one time. He did not have a woman companion and furthermore said he was not interested at the time. During this time in Kuwait, there was a shortage of manual laborers to perform light maintenance and building work. This is how Arafat made his money, operating a network of several thousand workers who transmitted funds to him, while he had a salary of $30,000 a year and free housing. In 1997, he told Larry King "I have never received a salary (from Fatah). I am still spending the money I made in Kuwait)." Arafat liked to be seen wearing his kuffiya which he tried to shape to resemble the map of Palestine. He wore the American-style sunglasses, which he even wore indoors, and he was usually in military fatigues. In some photos he carried a stick which resembled a field marshal's baton which acted as a symbol of his power and he used it to point to locations of heroics acts. He always wore a pendant containing a sura from the Koran around his neck. (page 82)

Arafat always liked to tell the press that he wants "the Palestinians to be like other people and have no need for him." (page 93)

The recognition of the PLO and of his individual leadership by the world community was singular political triumph for Arafat. He loved his new status, and it showed in the way he walked and talked - the firm step, the broad smile, and the statesman like references to the 'peace of the brave' and 'an end to war and conflict'. He took to speaking slowly and more deliberately, even making frequent references to his poor English. The participants in Oslo became 'my friends'. He exhibited a sense of confidence.

Arafat realized that he needed financial advisers more than political ones. He commissioned a number of studies to determine what it would take to enliven the economies of Gaza and the West Bank. He equated the welfare of the PLO with that of the Palestinian people. The PLO's financial situation became a major factor in determining the outcome of negotiations with Israel. (pages 262-263)

Before the Oslo process, it was moderate Palestinians and pro-West Arab governments who had tried to 'sell' peace to Arafat. After Oslo, he was doing the selling. Oslo was his alone and it cast him in the role of peacemaker. (page 264)

Arafat's first concern was to gain greater Palestinian support for Oslo. The agreement had originally been rejected by guerrilla groups, Hamas, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, most of the leadership of the occupied territories and Palestinian intellectuals. (page 264)

Arafat was less concerned with the rest of the Arab world providing political support, and was more interested in the resumption of their financial backing - at least getting them to release tax money collected frm Palestinians working in their countries. (page 265)

With the inception of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, all disbursements of aid money were determined by Arafat, usually on the telephone. The measure of anyone's importance was their ability to meet him and to have their picture taken with him. (page 280)

Arafat, as head of the PA, kept personal files on all the important people within the Fatah organization which became known as the black files. Arafat always tried to reason and turn people who were opposed to his policies. He would give them options, most commonly their own black file to read,which often included accusations of financial misdeeds, whoring or cowardice. The accused would usually turn around and become a loyal follower. When this occurred, Arafat would make sure that they were offered money and jobs which would make them more loyal.

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Background to the Feb 4th Clinton-Arafat Summit
by David Bedein
Media Research Analyst

The scheduled February 4, 1999 summit between US President Clinton and Palestinian Authority chairman Arafat occurs after the US has implored the PA to delay its declaration of independence and statehood until after the May, 1999 Israeli elections.

What the US government offers the PA is an aid package of $400 million, while encuraging the nations of the world to contribute another $3 billion dollars.

These contributions are tied to PA compliance with the Wye Accords.

In December, 1998, US Senator Arlen Spector (R-PA), who had accompanied President Clitnon in his middle east visit, explained to me and to other members of the media in Jerusalem that if the Israeli government were to claim that the PA is indeed in violation of the accords, then the $1.2 billion in additional aid promised by the US to Israel would be placed in jeopardy. Spector explained that this is because the US is ready to award such an aid package to Israel within the context of the implementation of the Wye accords.

The logic goes that if the government of Israel claims that the PA is not implementing these accords, then there will be no allocations of US funds - not to the Palestine Authority, and not to the state of Israel. Writing in HaAretz of January 8, 1999, leading security analyst Z'ev Schiff posited that the linkage of funds with the Wye accords implementation was the reason why the Israeli government would not make a clear declaration that the PA was in violation of the accords.

What the Israeli government has done in Washington has been to act in two directions at once. On the one hand, criticizing the Palestinian Authority for slow implementation of the Wye accords, while sending a high level delegation of the Israel Ministry of Finance to press the White House and the US congress to press for post-Wye allocations to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority, acting as if the PA is indeed implementing the Wye accords.

For that reason, the government of Israel has raised no official objection to the expected proclamation of US president Clinton which will be made in the presence of Arafat that, indeed, the PA is acting in compliance with the Wye accords.

The Israeli government acts in two voices - allowing its departments of information to attack the warlike actions of the Palestinian Authority, while authorizing its fiscal representatives to behave as if the PA acts in accordance with peace accords agreed on with the state of Israel, and witnessed by the US government.

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Europe May Suspend Funding to PA
Arafat Associates Suspected of Misappropriating EU Financial Aid
by Dov Alfon
Sunday, 31st January, 1999

The European Union has recently warned Yasser Arafat that Europe would freeze the transfer of financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority if the PA does not explain the disappearance of funds sent over the last two years.

Sources in the European Parliament in Strasbourg told Ha'aretz that the ambiguous financial statements that the PA has presented have raised serious suspicions of embezzlement by Arafat's close associates.

The sources disclosed that the freeze will be announced next week in Frankfort when the joint Palestinian-EU committee meets. Representatives of the PA are supposed to submit a report explaining the missing funds at the meeting. The EU's senior representative on the committee, Minister Manuel Marin, has received instructions not to be lenient this time and immediately announce a freeze in funding if suspicions of misappropriation persist.

Marin, who serves as the minister for the EU's relations with the Mediterranean region, is one of two ministers accused of wasteful budget management by the Parliament in Strasbourg.

The spokesmen for the EU's Mediterranean desk, Bosco Esteroulas, confirmed to Ha'aretz yesterday that the EU is considering freezing its aid to the PA, but denied that Manuel Marin promised to halt all flow of funds to the Palestinian territory: "If someone contends that a decision has been made to cut off the European allocations, then he is confusing various budgets. What we are considering, and considering very seriously, is freezing assistance to the Palestinian Authority. But we will not freeze allocations to designated projects in the autonomous area, such as the construction of hospitals, since there we know exactly where the money is going. On the other hand, it is possible we will not continue to transfer salary payments for the police, for example, or for items described as 'administrative expenses of the Authority.'"

The spokesman refused to comment on the suspicion of embezzlement and denied that Marin is taking a new approach to Mediterranean area funding as a result of the investigation being conducted against him.

Ha'aretz has learned that the EU has transfered some 195 million euros (NIS 916 million) to the PA during the past three years, while its total budgetary commitment is considerably greater, as much as 320 million euros (NIS 1.5 billion). The bulk of this larger sum includes funds directly transfered to the PA under vague budgetary titles such as "assistance to the Palestinian government" and "assistance to democratization in the autonomy.

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The Forces the Brought Crown Prince Hassan Down
by David Wurmser
MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 12
22nd January, 1999

The following is an adaptation of an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal European Edition on Monday, January 25, 1999.

One might question the wisdom of the Clinton Administration's ongoing attempts to secure Yasser Arafat a Palestinian state in the territory occupied by Israel after the 1967 war. But any policy that also advances his interests in neighboring Jordan must be regarded as dangerous. If recent reports coming out of the Arab world have any basis, some within the Clinton administration might have allowed themselves to be ensnared into doing precisely that and sowing uncertainty over who will rule Jordan after King Hussein.

King Hussein returned home Tuesday from a half-year stay in the United States for cancer treatment. Within a week, he suddenly and unexpectedly removed his brother, Hassan bin Talal, as Crown Princea status which he held for more than 30 years. It was a messy process. For a week, Amman was gripped by confusion and uncertainty. At first, royal officials gave only limited indications that Hassan's assumption of the throne was endangered. Then, the king failed to endorse Hassan in a CNN interview and excluded him in a meeting with Bahrain and Dubai's crown princes according to established protocol. Finally, just before dawn on January 26, a short statement was read on Jordanian radio announcing that not only had Hussein appointed his eldest son, Prince Abdallah, as the new crown prince, but that Hassan and his aides were removed because of serious offenses, including trying to purge the army of loyal officers and replace them with his own, and engaging in corruption and scandals, including administering expired vaccines to children.1 These charges were striking. Never in his 35 years of being crown prince, nor in his half year of being regent, was Hassan known for anything other than fierce loyalty to his brother and energetic opposition to corruption in the kingdom. In part, his attack on corruption may explain his downfall.

For years, many in Jordan opposed Hassan's eventual enthronement. These opponents include supporters of Syria, Saddam Hussein, and particularly the PLO--all three of which identify Hassan with policies they fear. It also includes those benefitting from the structure of corruption which, unfortunately, still plays a large role in Jordanian business and which is tied to the interests of some of Jordan's neighbors. In addition, numerous elements in the royal family itself, for self-interested reasons, have long seen their own fortunes tied to the crowning of other candidates. The question is whether the United States might have allowed itself to be dragged into these squabbles in dangerous ways.

As early as August, Arab papers reported that American officials were quite anxious about Hassan's regency and eventual succession.2 They believed that Hassan, since his designation as crown prince in 1965, led a "hard line" camp against the Palestinians, who form the majority of Jordanian citizens. In fact, they saw him as pushing Hussein into the 1970 confrontation with the PLO. They fear that Hassan's lack of harmony with the kingdom's "demographic realities" could lead either to internal unrest or to Palestinian capital flight. Much of Jordan's financial structure is controlled by a few Palestinian families, such as the al-Masris, who are linked to Arafat. They also feared that Hassan would have to rely on Islamic fundamentalists to survive. The administration shared its fears with the Israelis. According to Israeli papers, in an October 14 meeting with Israeli foreign minister Sharon and prime minister Netanyahu, Clinton "expressed grave concern" over Jordan's stability after Hassan takes over.3

According to articles in the Arab press, before Christmas an American National Security Council official traveled to Hussein's hospital bed in the United States to suggest that Prince Hamzah, Hussein's and Queen Nur's son, rather than Hassan, be crown prince.4 They tried to reassure Hussein that the problem of Hamzah's youth could be overcome through American security assistance and financial aid to the Kingdom. According to some reports, American officials were encouraged by Hussein's wife, Queen Nur, to press her husband. Arab papers report that also others within Jordan have been agitating for a similar change. And now newspapers in Amman draw attention to the symbolic significance of allowing only the powerful chief of Jordanian general intelligence, Samih al-Batikhi, to attend the meeting between King Hussein and Clinton on the eve of Hussein's return.5 Mr. Batikhi is not among Hassan's supporters. Both Jordan's Prime Minister, as well as the chief of the Royal Hashemite Court, were not allowed to attend the meeting in which the issue of succession was reported to have topped the agenda.6

Palestinian papers describe Batikhi's role as central. Not only did Batikhi accompany Hussein to meet Clinton alone on January 5, but he also visited Hussein at the Mayo Clinic over eighty times in the last half year. He also flew with Hussein back from the United States to London and January 6, where Hussein and Batikhi met with Prime Minster Blair and Foreign Minister Cook and then back to Amman, where he was televised alongside Hussein emerging from the plan at that pivotal moment. These papers also report that Batikhi will be named the new prime minister of Jordan within the next few weeks.7

This January 5 Hussein/Clinton meeting appears to be the turning point. In an interview, just days before, Hussein emphatically and quickly dismissed rumors that he intended to remove his brother as crown prince. And, according to Arab papers, he bristled at the NSC official's suggestion during his pre-Christmas meeting to oust Hassan and crown Hamzah--at which point his wife Nur intervened and asked him to defer his decision to retain Hassan.8 The tone changed dramatically after the January 5 Clinton-Hussein meeting. By January 8, detailed articles appeared in Arab papers explaining not only that Hussein had changed his mind, but explaining the circumstances that led to the change and the sequence of events that would follow--a sequence that hitherto came true to everyone's surprise a week later.

It is important to understand the agenda of Hassan's opponents. Despite American skepticism, Hassan is known for his concern for Palestinians and his eagerness to escort foreign dignitaries around abysmal refugee camps in the hopes of securing assistance for them. But Hassan is also known to suspect Arafat personally and the PLO more broadly--skepticism born of the bitter experiences of Black September 1970 when he and his family were targets of Arafat's murderous organization. American concerns that Hassan cannot come to terms with Jordan's Palestinians blur the distinction in Hassan's attitudes toward the PLO and his attitude towards Palestinians, suggesting a tendency to see all Palestinian politics uncritically through the PLO's narrow lens.

The hopes of those opposing Hassan have been recently bolstered by the involvement of American public relations advisor Frank Anderson, engaged by Prince Talal bin Muhammad on behalf of Queen Nur (though in a surprise move of his own, by the end of the week, Talal seemed to distance himself from his earlier support for Nur). In an interview to an Israeli newspaper, Mr. Anderson admitted his long ties to the PLO as a former CIA official in Beirut in the 1970s and eventually as the head of the Near East division's operations branch.9 In that interview, Mr. Anderson still speaks nostalgically and proudly of his ties with one of the deadliest terrorists of the 1960s and 1970s, Hassan Salame, the "Red Prince," killed by Israel in January 1979 for his role in the Munich Olympic massacre. Mr. Anderson recalls that during the fighting in Black September 1970 (the PLO-Hashemite war to control Jordan), Salame headed Bureau 17 (the precursor of Force 17), the elite PLO unit conducting the most dangerous and deadly missions during the fighting against the Hashemites. Mr. Anderson's long-time ties to the PLO, and his current affiliation with the anti-Hassan camp, contrast with Hassan's history with the PLO.

Iraq policy will also be affected. Hassan openly challenged Saddam Hussein and supports the Iraqi opposition. During a televised speech to an Arab Parliamentary Union meeting in late December, he lashed out at Saddam, prompting Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to single him out for condemnation. In contrast, Mr. Anderson has been a vocal opponent of the Iraqi opposition, appearing last year on U.S. television to lambaste plans for a popular insurgency against Saddam, preferring a military coup instead.10 And, according to the Iraqi opposition, chief of intelligence Batikhi was deeply involved in helping the CIA's ill-fated military coup attempt in Iraq in 1996 against which both they and Hassan strongly warned as ill-conceived and infiltrated. Other powerful forces in Jordan oppose Hassan's support for the Iraqi opposition because they are either sympathetic to Saddam, or at least believe Jordan must maintain good relations with Iraq regardless of its leader. In the fight against corruption, which has been at the center of Hassan's domestic agenda, also won Hassan enemies, including the small group of Palestinians, including Sabih al-Masri, who run the bulk of Jordan's financial structure through the Cairo-Amman bank and are also tied to Iraqi and PLO interests.

Jordan has reached a watershed. Though small, its politics can influence the course of Arab politics by example. Jordan has rested in the last 30 years on a firmer political foundation than the fashionable European ideas of fascism and totalitarianism that have corrupted the region's other states. During his reign, Hussein asked little of his people and rarely demanded sacrifices--as have Assad, Arafat or Saddam--to pursue personal ideas or grandeur. And its constitutional monarchy had been developing into the Arab world's first genuine democracy.

Precisely these traits made Jordan a necessary target for the region's questionable actors. Jordan needs a strong leader to navigate through trying times as it deals with democratization and faces a resurgent Saddam, an emerging PLO entity, and a regional climate as uncertain as any in decades. Despite U.S. reservations over Hassan, he had three decades of experience and knows well who threatens his realm. And his half-year regency was generally considered as competently-run. In fact, there appears to be a split in the US government since some in the US State Department acknowledge that Hassan has ruled Jordan well over the last months while others dismiss his capabilities. It would be a grave misstep if the reports emerging from the Arab world have any basis and some in the Clinton administration indeed allowed the United States to be entangled in the succession process in Jordan and has helped derailed succession to Hassan. This would constitute not only a serious violation of an ally's sovereignty, but also encourage a dangerous turn for which Jordan, the United States and all our regional allies will pay a heavy price. In fact, it opens the door for dangerous games in Amman--a circumstance that could lead to the collapse of Jordan as we know it.

Dr. Wurmser is research fellow in Middle East Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and has just published "Tyranny's Ally: America's Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein" (AEI Press).

1Jamal Halaby, "King of Jordan Names Son Heir," Associated Press Wire Service, January 26, 1999.
2Said al-Qaysi, "Jordan: Report Views Post-Husayn Developments," Al-Watan al-Arabi, August 28, 1998.
3Shimon Schiffer and Nahum Barnea, "US Reportedly Discusses Post-Husayn Era with Israel," Yediot Aharonot, October 18, 1998.
4Walid Abu Dhahr, "US Favors Hamzah to Succeed King Husayn," Al-Watan al-Arabi, January 8, 1999.
5"King Hussein's Return Surrounded by Speculation, Debate," Al-Majd, January 11, 1999.
6Walid Abu Dhahr, "US Favors Hamzah."
7Al-Hayat al-Jadida, January 24, 1999.
8Walid Abu Dhahr, "US Favors Hamzah."
9David Makovsky, "The Secret CIA-PLO Channel: An Interview with Frank Anderson," Haaretz, November 10, 1998.
10"The News Hour with Jim Lehrer," McNeil/Lehrer Productions, November 25, 1998.

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Fatah Website
Revolutionary Realism in the Balance

"Together with all Arab peoples, then, we must do our utmost to ensure that Netenyahu is not re-elected"

The date that has been set for Israel's early elections, May 17, 1999, was not arrived at by chance. Earlier dates suggested by the Labor Party were rejected by the Likud on the pretext that they did not allow for the required administrative preparations. The date agreed upon allows the Likud to stay in power for the longest possible period of time, during which the party hopes to put its house in order, as well as to work to erode the popularity of the new candidate, Shahak.

The May 17 date was also suggested for symbolic reasons related to the counter coup staged by the Likud in 1997, when they won the elections. The Labor Party wants to remind its electorate that it is time they regained power as the real builders of Israel.

Finally, the Likud selected this date because it hopes that by so doing it may prevent the PLO and PNA from declaring a Palestinian state on May 4, 1999.

However, the month of May, and in particular mid-May, has a symbolic value in Palestinian history, too. In 1947, UN Resolution 181 set the date of May 15 as the date for establishing the Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel. Palestinian institutions, then, might declare the state on May 4, while May 15 could be the actual day of its realization. The second date reminds the world of the previous commitment made to the Palestinian people.

For our part, we only wish to put an end to the politics of deception that Netenyahu's government practices. Saying this is not to deny that the Labor Party engaged in similar practices, albeit to a relatively lesser degree, during the days of Rabin and Peres. Certainly, we expect the Labor Party to continue in the same vein. There is, however, a difference between a party that sees its interest in peace and one which sees its interest in the destruction of peace.

The strength of the Palestinian position rests on its grounding in realism. Solidly based on the knowledge that all its goals, as well as all the accords and protocols signed despite the prejudice they involve, are in line with a legal framework that calls for the application of international law, the Palestinian position is a good one from which to pressure those whose interests are different.

We will continue to recruit international support for implementation of these internationally sponsored agreements, while the Israeli side will continue to be condemned for its failure to keep its promises. This failure, unfortunately, has become a feature of all the agreements both sides have signed, to the tune of the Israeli slogan, "No date is sacred".

Among the most important of the dates referred to in all agreements, including the Wye River Memorandum, is the date on which the interim period is to end, May 4, 1999. On this day, the Palestinian people will be freed from the restrictions they accepted under the Oslo Accords. On that date, they will be free to implement all international resolutions issued concerning their rights -- including the right of return and the right to self-determination and the establishment of the Palestinian state.

As we know, the right of return is one of the final status issues and cannot be implemented unilaterally. This right, however, is one which concerns the Palestinian people only. It is the sacred duty of the PLO to respond to the will of its people.

After May 4, 1999, the PLO becomes the party that is formally delegated to pursue the legal aspects of the Palestinian declaration of statehood. This delegation of power to the PLO has been approved already by the Palestinian National Council. Well before the collapse of Netenyahu's government, the president of the council and the committees concerned were requested to, and did, make the final arrangements.

Just how apathetic Netenyahu can be towards international relations is made clear in his attempt to use the early elections as a pretext for not implementing the Wye Memorandum. That gesture also makes clear the position Netenyahu has selected in a bid to ensure his re-election. This position will be seen to have been a tragic mistake.

And what, after May 4, 1999, Palestinians may wonder, shall we do? Into this discussion come our reliance on realism and our knowledge of the bargaining power which is in the hands of the PLO. We've adhered to all peace agreements, and now we are free. Some may call for the adoption of a "pragmatic" position, involving postponing the deadline until after the Israeli elections.

Such a position, in our view, rewards Netenyahu's procrastination and implies that we have succumbed to his will.

It was revolutionary realism that caused Fateh to launch its first attack on January 1, 1965 -- an attack that most Arab regimes and even some Fateh movement leaders opposed. It was that same realism which provided the movement with the energy to undertake its second attack on August 28, 1967, after the 1967 war, despite the opposition of the majority in the Arab world. It was just that realism which made possible the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in Algeria on November 11, 1988, in response to the Intifada.

To those who are reluctant, we say this: failure to realize our independence, to realize the state which already enjoys the support of legal resolutions, could only provide Netenyahu with the victory he wants so badly. If we were to back down, Netenyahu would only impose his will on the Palestinian people, rank and file. He would persuade the Israelis that he had managed to lower the expectations of the Palestinian people, in contrast to his predecessor, Peres, who avowed that "a successful peace depends on a successful Palestinian state." Such will be the tenor of Netenyahu's political discourse.

Netenyahu could, some of his advisors believe, achieve a double objective if he were to implement the second stage of the Wye Memorandum. Doing so would, on the one hand, postpone the re- affirmation of the existence of an independent Palestinian state, while on the other bringing Netenyahu more votes from those who would see in the action an instance of his commitment to peace.

One of the principles that has distinguished Fateh has been its policy of non-interference in the local affairs of other countries. Article 28 of the Basic Law of Fateh, however, used the term "local", as different from "internal" affairs, a distinction which has allowed the movement to act whenever a country's "internal" affairs could positively influence our cause. Such interference has never been direct, but has, rather, been undertaken through certain local forces to ensure a positive effect on the Palestinian question. Certain mistakes has been made, but the Palestinian cause has always been the sole beneficiary of all our efforts.

Israeli elections are internal affairs the results of which will have a direct influence on the entire peace process. As we have seen, these elections were timed to release Netenyahu from his obligations within the peace agreements. If he is re-elected, Netenyahu may well impose his own version of "peace": autonomy for Palestinians within the land of Israel. In short, these elections directly and forcibly influence our fate as Palestinians. Together with all Arab peoples, then, we must do our utmost to ensure that Netenyahu is not re-elected, while recognizing that even if this goal is achieved, it still represents only a somewhat lesser evil.

The PNA may decide to adopt a neutral stance toward the Israeli elections, especially after the negative experience it underwent following its obvious support for Peres in the last election. At that time, the PNA agreed to allow postponement of the Israeli troop withdrawal from Hebron, in the hope that the delay might help Peres win the elections.

Inside Israel, Arab forces need to close ranks to ensure the strongest representation of the Arab population. Pluralism need not prevent these forces from adopting a working program that pushes toward the implementation of all UN resolutions concerning Palestine, the Golan Heights, and South Lebanon.

Unfortunately, the language used by the two main contenders, Barak and Netenyahu, is the same as to final status issues. It differs only regarding the issues of the interim period, the period that Netenyahu has just about killed off. His re-election platform includes the following:

No more land should be transferred to the Palestinians, since doing so would endanger Israeli security.

A Palestinian state must not be allowed to exist, since such a state would be used to launch armed attacks against Israel in an attempt to get Israel to accept the 1947 UN Resolution 181, and thereby re-take some of the territory now called Israel proper.

There will be no withdrawal from the Golan Heights, because of the dangers such a withdrawal would pose to the security of Israel.

As for Barak, who does not outright oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state and who is willing to concede somewhat more land, his election platform is based on the following:

There will be no return to the 1967 borders.

A foreign army cannot be positioned to the west of the River Jordan.

Settlements will remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Both positions, clearly, contract all agreements made as part of the peace process, as well as United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace. These positions, representing an Israeli consensus, should in turn help us to create a Palestinian consensus on final status issues. We can achieve this by means of a national dialogue involving all Palestinian forces and factions. Such a dialogue would determine those principles, or constants, from which none of us would deviate and which none of us would overlook.

Achieving a Palestinian consensus regarding the establishment of a state at the end of the interim period should help open a new chapter in relationships between the various Palestinian factions, including the PLO and other Islamic or Pan-Arab movements. The discussion should lead to a clear formulation of our united position on the establishment of a state and on the adoption of a collective national work program. Such a consensus should assure the continuity of our struggle to free the territories occupied in 1967; to secure the return of our refugees; to take control of our natural resources, borders and points of crossing into other countries; and to put an end to the building and expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Agreeing on such a program before the actual creation of the state would require the existence of PLO and PNA institutions strong enough to carry out our mission, including the plan of action already set by the two bodies. Again, we emphasize the importance of village and city councils. Local elections should be considered, in order to reinforce both our national unity and democratic institutions at the local level.

Some of the unfortunate practices that accompanied the Arab local elections in Israel might have strengthened the position of those arguing against elections and in favor of the appointment of local heads of councils. The latter practice can only reinforce individual loyalties and decisiveness. Needless to say, Zionists favor the practice of appointment rather than elections in the Arab "sector" of Israeli society, as a way of weakening the unity of the Arab community in general and especially as Arabs support the cause of their brothers and sisters across the Green Line.

No one denies the existence of social ills within our society. Tribal affiliation gives rise to some of these. But the deliberate manipulation of religious sectarianism is a new and dangerous development which must be fought. We in Fateh try our best to minimize the effects of tribalism on movement conferences. We realize the importance of re-shaping our social fabric so that loyalty is foremost to the nation, rather than to the family or the tribe. The future of our nation is based on our belief that victory is inevitable and sacrifice willingly made. These twin poles will be the means to obtain a prosperous future and the establishment of a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

Revolution until victory!

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