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Peres Renounces Arafat

02 July 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was the last holdout concerning negotiations with PA Chairman Yasir Arafat.  Peres still ‘believed’ Arafat was a partner for peace, until yesterday when at the Labor Party convention he called on the government to find a “new fitting partner for the war on terrorism” who will prevent the “Islamization of the Palestinian Authority”.  There are no government leaders remaining with any illusions that Arafat is a sworn terrorist.  As noted previously there are still left wing journalists and politicians living the delusion of Arafat as peacemaker. 

For quite a while Peres knew Arafat stood behind terrorism, but as the architect of the Oslo Accords could not say so publicly.  The shift in American policy via the Bush speech of last week allowed him to also distance himself from the Chairman.  He however, is searching for an “authentic” peace minded Palestinian leadership, in contrast to many of the right wing politicians in the National Unity Government.

In return for the Peres announcement, Prime Minister Sharon made clear his intentions of pursuing peace, meaning an eventual Palestinian state.  The Sharon - Peres team has strengthened their centrist position.

Hunger Marches Again in Gaza

This time over 3,000 Palestinian workers marched in Gaza, attempting to storm the Palestinian Parliament building.  Two years ago most of the demonstrators worked in Israel, today almost all are part of the estimated 80% unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip.  Anger is taken out on the Palestinian Authority since there is no Israeli occupation of Palestinian cities in the Strip and all are quite aware of the massive corruption and skimming of foreign donor funds in the PA.  There are even accusations of food supplies being siphoned off and resold for higher prices on the black market.

The demonstrators demanded food, banged pots and pans and held up stale pitot to emphasize their misery.  Arriving at the Parliament, workers were beaten back by police.  It is not a revolution, but it is the dawn of a new understanding by the Palestinians as to the ‘real interests’ of their leadership.