Bush Administration Bargaining With Arafat On His Life And Qureih Will Not Hear The Praise

by Mamdouh Nofal on 29/09/2003

There is no problem in forming a new Palestinian cabinet and there is no dispute between Qureih and Fatah about its program. There is also no American or Israeli pressure exerted on Arafat in order to speed up the formation of a new government and conceding his security and financial prerogatives to a new Prime Minister or appointing this or that in this or that position. There is no need for Egypt to intervene in settling Arafat’s disputes with Qureih for there are no disputes. The designated Prime Minister can announce the names of the ministers any time now. As for the delay of carrying out the known procedures, it is a tactical issue related to the stage after the cabinet formation and gaining the adequate time to inquire the stances of the international and regional forces, and mobilize support to the cabinet in addition to guaranteeing that it will live longer than the resigned one. The old dispute between the presidency institution, the members of Fatah leadership and the executive wing of the Authority regarding the relation of the Prime Minister with the security forces that was decided in a presidential statement issued after the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas’ government, according to which Arafat reformed the national high security council and united all the Palestinian security forces under the council and the designated prime minister agreed to be along with the minister of interior affairs two efficient members in it.

Regardless of Fatah’s share in the new government and who would enter or exist it, it will not involve any surprises, as the headlines for its political, security and financial tendencies were defined when Qureih accepted Arafat’ offer to “carry the trust” that is not different of the program of the resigned cabinet. The image’s features of the “sovereignty ministries” ministers occurred after both presidents relinquished the idea of the “small emergency cabinet” and the agreement about the position of the security forces in the Authority that are still linked in a way or the other to the presidential institution. Qureih’s cabinet will not face any problem in obtaining the confidence of the legislative council and the prime minister will not face national troubles, especially with Fatah that Abbas faced, especially that the organizational and political basis of forming the government was ratified in a wide meeting of Fatah presided by Arafat that gathered the members of the central committee, the revolutionary council and the Fatah members in the legislative council.

Qureih’s government will not enter a bloody confrontation with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliate to Fatah, and the forces that are still adopting armed struggle as a means to liberate, build the state and realize the dream of return. The Prime Minister will deploy every possible effort to renew the truce and stop the suicide attacks or any other military operations, not for fear of the opposition force, but in order to preserve the Palestinian blood at a time when Ariel Sharon’s government and the White House insist on killing the Palestinians and stealing their land.

I am not one of those who rushes to judge Qureih’s government and I don’t think it will not last long. True, its program is not different of Abbas one and that Qureih will not realize an achievement Abbas did not, and Bush will not enter into a conflict with Sharon because of it. However, it is true as well that Arafat and Qureih agreeing upon the relation of the security forces in the presidency, Qureih declaring ever since the beginning following Fatah and committing its organizational and political tendencies in addition to the fact that he reached a primary understanding with the national and Islamic forces,etc., are all important elements that define the age of the Palestinian cabinets, provide the new cabinet what the former one missed, facilitate the tasks of the new Prime Minister and reduce the weight of the burdens that annoyed Abbas and confused his behavior.

In parallel, Qureih and his government will face Israeli problems that are much bigger than Abbas faced. For according to Sharon, it is a cabinet that follows Arafat. If the Right members in Israel opened the fire on the resigned Prime Minister a few weeks after he formed his cabinet and Sharon described him as a weak person who is unable of protecting himself from Arafat and as a plucked chicken, the battle against Qureih started immediately when he accepted the designation and he would be charged with the worst and most dangerous accusations. Sharon who is insisting on settling an old-new account with Arafat, kindling the peace process and realize the dreams built on historical illusions, will not remember the many meetings he held with Qureih and will forget that he once said he “is satisfied with Qureih and that he prefers to deal with him.”

In addition, Palestinians will not hear President Bush and the members of his administration praising Qureih’s government. Albeit the Palestinian prime minister is one of the peace process makers and is very well known to the American administration, however, I doubt that he would enter the White House under Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney. His government will not find someone to defend it in the American-Palestinian-Israeli meetings for according to the Americans, it was built on the rubbles of a cabinet Arafat toppled because they were satisfied with. One who heard and read Bush’s speech in the UN Assembly General on September 24, 2003, understands the great difficulties the Palestinian prime minister will encounter with the American administration and with Israel.

It is true that President Bush asserted in front of a wide number of presidents and representatives of the world’s countries his commitment to the Roadmap in order to settle the conflict and execute his “vision” of the formation of the Palestinian state neighboring the Israeli one by 2005, he said too: “the Palestinian people deserves a state committed to the reform, fighting terror and building peace,” he called Israel to work on “providing the circumstances that allow the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state.” Nice words about peace in the Middle East, but what is true as well is that his sayings lost their value even before he finished his speech for it became a heavy burden for the Palestinians that threatened hindering their right to a state just like all the other people on earth when he said: “the U.S. desires that any Palestinian state stay away of Arafat incitements if it wants to establish a Palestinian state.” I am afraid his criticism to the Palestinian leadership when he said “the Palestinian cause was betrayed by leaders that stick to the Authority through promoting the old hatred and destroying the work of the others.” Into an American authorization to the Israeli radicals to deepen the hatred and undermine the Roadmap after they hindered it, in addition to creating new truths that would burry the peace though for long years. And an alibi to kill and arrest more Palestinians jail their leaders, humiliate them, steal their territory and destroy their houses.

I think that reading between the lines of Bush’s discourse in the UN, and the sayings of his consultants “we will wait and see what the new Palestinian Prime Minister is able to do” assert that the White House’s members decided to change their way to deal with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the interest of Sharon’s stance and the desire of his assistants in the Congress. They decided to limit their effort in the remaining period before the elections to managing the conflict instead of settling it.

The Secretary of State Powell set three conditions in an interview with the BBC on September 23 that prove this conclusion and point the U.S. Department of State obstinacy to make the Palestinians bear the responsibility for the U.S. letting down the Roadmap and use stances and behavior of the Palestinian opposition as bombs to mislead the American and international public opinion.

Powell knows better than anyone else that the origin of his three conditions is related to Israel, the Likud and Sharon and not to the Labor party. His first condition “that the new prime minister should enjoy an independent political authority away of Arafat’s incitements” means to speed up pushing Qureih and his government to the miserable fate Abbas’ government faced. Claiming Qureih to confiscate all Arafat’s security powers and control them by himself is an impossible condition that shortens the duration of his government. The third condition about the fact he should commit to “eradicate terror, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and other organizations” means putting him in a confrontation with his people and make him bear the responsibility for an internal fight.

I am not one of those exaggerate the predicting the track of the Palestinian-Israeli relation and the Palestinian-American one under Qureih. However, I disapprove minimizing the importance of Sharon’s government decision that considered “Arafat as an obstacle that should be removed” or ignore Olmert saying about killing him. I disapprove also minimizing the meaning of Bush’s administration stance that consider that dismantling killing an elected president and postponing driving him out is a great achievement they should be praised for day and night. If the defeat, negligence and minimization policy dismantles taking the right stance at the right time, relying on the personal forces alone and the human shields in addition to launch popular demonstrations do not protect the “district” and face the fierce attack Palestinians are subject to, the people, the territory and the leadership. True, these are useful moves and activities but they are not the substitute for pursuing the internal reforms, organize the relation between the Authority and the opposition and activate the political movement at both Arab and international levels. And it is necessary to declare the truce from one side in order to launch this movement and perturb Sharon’s tendencies.

If Sharon is waiting for a suicide attack executed by a Palestinian in one of the buses or pubs in Jerusalem or in any other Israeli city to penetrate the cities and camp, settle his accounts with Arafat, cancel Oslo impacts and burry Qureih’s ambitions and the peaceful tendencies of his government under the rubbles of the district and the houses and centers of Hamas leaders…etc, Then realizing his hope and facilitating his desire is a suicidal behavior and an unforgiving crime regardless of who will perpetrate it.