Date: Tue, 15 Sep 98 22:59:22 CDT
From: MER FlashBack <MER@middleeast.org>
Subject: Differences Between Labor and Likud - MER FlashBack
No matter what one thinks of Yasser Arafat and his regime; no matter how much one laments the unprecedented levels of corruption, incompetence, and thugishness; there are important new realities that need to be taken into consideration as well.
Whereas the previous Labor government thought they could use and
manipulate Arafat and his associates, eventually possibly setting up a
Palestinian State under their controlone that would
in reality have Palestinians on Reservations or Bantustans but which
could be trumpeted nonetheless as
Israel to establish closer relations with the Arab regimes and create
New Middle EastLikud is a bit different.
Likud prefers to not only undermine Palestinian independence but to undermine even the illusions that Labor preferred to promote.
Likud is essentially giving Arafat and company this basic choice: either fully cooperate with Israel, and with the Hashemite regime in Jordan, bring the Palestinian population under full control, quash Hamas and all opposition, and in return administer autonomously your population centers with Israel's blessings and support...or maybe we'll decide we don't really need you.
In order to cajole and squeeze Arafat even further then he is already compromised, the Israelis are using a variety of new pressures:
1) Millions promised Arafat are being transferred more slowlya symbolic showing that the Arafat regime is totally dependent on the Israelis no matter what Arafat says in public.
2) The U.S. Congress has again closed the PLO office in Washington -- a symbolic warning that Israel can change US policy toward Arafat if it wants to.
3) Private Arafat bank accounts, once secret and holding hundreds of millions of dollars under Arafat's personal control, are no longer accessible without specific Israeli approval; there is even some anxiety Arafat might one day try to flee into exile again in an effort to rebuilt his image and free himself from an increasingly dangerous situation.
4) One of Arafat's most senior associates is being rumored as a
possible rival and successorwhether these rumors reflect actual
Israeli policies at this time or are disinformation designed to put
greater pressure on Arafat, is debatable. Rajoub, one of the top
intelligence operatives widely known for his brutish
style, is being manipulated as a threat to Arafat's personal
rulea way of telling
the Chairman he's not indispensable
and better do what he's told or else. It is known that Rajoub has
visited the U.S. a number of times in recent years and that he has
developed close relations with the both CIA and Israeli intelligence.
5) The Israelis have even leaked news stories that hit squads
similar to those of the 1970s which assassinated quite of number of
PLO personalities in Europe and the Middle Easthave again been
secretly established and that should fighting break out between the
Israeli Army and Arafat's
Palestinian Authority they could be
used. Again a means of further squeezing and frightening Arafat.
6) All the while Israeli settlement expansion, coupled with demolition
of Palestinian housing, continues with the goal of further weakening
and discrediting Arafat while making anything even approximating a
Palestinian State impossible.
Partly in order to foil Labor plans to push forward with Arafat toward
Palestinian State when they come back to
powersomething the Americans and many influential American Jews
close to the Clinton Administration are desperate to bring
aboutLikud policy is extremely Machiavellian.
If they can cajole and force Arafat to destroy Hamas and all
Palestinian oppositionpreferably through a Palestinian civil war
that devastates Palestinian societyfine indeed. The Israelis
have been trying to quash the Intifada, demoralize the Palestinians,
and bring about Palestinian acquiesce to Israeli rule and acceptance
autonomy for decades. Likud, even Ariel Sharon who is
masterminding much that is going on these days, is not beyond
embracing Arafat as their own under such circumstances. Even though
many independent writers and analystsNoam Chomky and Edward Said
among themhave very persuasively outlined how Arafat has been
already been twisted into a collaborator, this hasn't gone far enough
for the Sharon-wing of Israeli politics now in charge.
It may be though that Netanyahu and Sharon have made the decision in
fact that Arafat lacks the strength and/or the ability to fully
control Palestinian society, and that it would be too dangerous to
leave him in place to work with Labor again toward the devilishly
seductive deal of a
Palestinian Stateeven if it would be
more Apartheid-like than independent. Either way the Israelis are now
positioned to get Arafat to agree to their terms in a kind of new
post-Oslo reformulation, or alternatively to bring about Arafat's
demise leaving the Palestinians politically leaderless or with
strong-man Rajoub brought to power in anticipation he will be even
more ruthless and corrupt, destroying all Palestinian opposition so
long as power and money are centralized in his hands.