ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Abu Mazen on the Verge of Failure

Abu Mazen on the Verge of Failure

22 April 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

If you want to make peace you do not deal with Yasir Arafat.  Hence two months ago the Palestine Legislative Council nominated Abu Mazen for Palestinian prime minister in an effort to undercut President (or as Israel says – “Chairman”) Arafat.  The two are down to the wire on deciding who will be in the Palestinian cabinet and what policies will be taken to begin to advance the Bush ‘Road Map’. 

Arafat wants his old loyalists in the cabinet despite the PLC calls for reform, especially in battling corruption.  As pointed out in today’s Ha’aretz, supposedly the two were at loggerheads over ministerial appointments, in particular that of Mohammed Dahlan.  But such arguments are only a smokescreen, the real issue is the disarming of the many underground (or terrorist) groups, beginning with Arafat’s own loyalist Fatah and Al Aksa Brigades.  Afterwards the really hard nuts of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad must be tackled.

Arafat objects to disarming anyone while Abu Mazen knows the Bush ‘Road Map’ stands no chance if the Palestinian Authority will not be the sole officially armed organization in the ‘state-to-be’.  In modern democratic society, the only official body allowed to use organized armed force is the state, hence law, order and defense are ensured.  Arafat is said to fear such a move will cause a civil war, which may be the case, but the larger question of Middle East peace looms. 

The PA must disarm all the militias is there is to be a two state solution to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict.  Arafat does not want a two state solution, still hoping for Israel’s demise.  Disarming the militias means taking sides with Israel, the US and even the Europeans.  Abu Mazen is regularly accused by the average Palestinian interviewee of being an American/Zionist lackey and Arafat knows he can liquidate such ‘moderate’ opposition over such policy issues as disarming militias (terror groups). 

According to a PLC deadline, Abu Mazen has another day to form his cabinet, even if questions are left open.  At the moment he is being forced into a pro-Arafat, anti-peace government. 

Such paralysis will return him to the #2 spot, but as a beaten, weakened, submissive Arafat adherent, not exactly what the US and European Union had in mind.   More importantly the West and Israe

l expect him to begin disarming terrorists and apparently he does see that as his mandate.

Despite the American victory over Saddam Hussein, Arafat and the Palestinian street (or at least those interviewed) appear quite unimpressed and are willing to buck whatever peace proposals are put on the table.  Arafat is proving he is ‘relevant’ but only when it comes to making war, when it comes to peace he is no where to be found.  Abu Mazen may want conflict resolution, but is losing ground steadily and may not even present a government and become prime minister.
As for Israel one can expect increasing pressures to complete the
security fence.