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Ehud Ya'ari: 'coalition of senior Palestinians' demand change from Arafat

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  • Josh Pollack
    Senior Palestinians Said To Call for Change in Political Leadership, Direction GMP20020503000165 Jerusalem Channel 2 Television in Hebrew 1700 GMT 03 May 02
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2002
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      'Senior' Palestinians Said To Call for Change in Political Leadership,
      GMP20020503000165 Jerusalem Channel 2 Television in Hebrew 1700 GMT 03 May
      [Studio discussion between anchor Aharon Barne'a, Arab affairs correspondent
      Ehud Ya'ari, and political correspondent Udi Segal]

      [FBIS Translated Excerpt]
      [Ya'ari] The outcome of Operation Defensive Shield has been a shock
      for the Palestinians that is leading to a strong coalition of senior
      Palestinians that are demanding from Arafat a change in direction in the
      political sphere -- to join the Arab states in an arrangement with Israel --
      and internally, to change the government and unify the armed forces under a
      single person, but somebody else.

      [Barne'a] Ehud, you spoke about Palestinian calls for changes in their
      leadership. What does that mean in practice? Does it mean ending the
      intifadah and the suicide bombings?

      [Ya'ari] All the spokesmen we used to hear every evening say that the
      intifadah and the armed struggle will continue have been silent. This does
      not mean that they totally denounce violence or suicide bombings. However,
      the group around Muhammad Dahlan that is now pressuring Arafat to carry out
      a genuine upheaval in the political sphere has been holding for several days
      a very serious dialogue with HAMAS leadership in Gaza, parts of which are
      ready to agree that at the moment they have to make do with less, reduce the
      violence, and accept some partial political target through a conference.

      Arafat himself is under trilateral pressure: One, by the street, which
      was not so impressed by his performance on leaving the Al-Muqata'ah. Two,
      by the Arab countries, which tell him to link up with Egypt and Saudi
      Arabia, and on 8 May they want him to come or send somebody to Cairo to
      explain what was agreed with the Americans. Three, the coalition being
      worked out by Dahlan, Abu-Mazin [Mahmud Abbas] and others to present to
      Arafat the demand to change political direction and reorganize, which means
      that Arafat's powers will be harmed. Dahlan wants to make the change
      together with Arafat and not against him. [passage omitted with Dahlan's
      remarks in Arabic to MBC Television]

      These are proposals not demands, but when it comes from such a coalition
      Arafat is in trouble. He has still not said what he thinks. In the
      background is a struggle over what kind of reform. There are leaflets
      against Arafat's aide Muhammad Rashid, and yet another attack on Jibril
      al-Rujub. This battle is only in its infancy.

      [Segal] Israel says that we have to exploit these calls for change.
      The prime minister is going to the United States with a political plan that
      says the following: I am ready to enter into a political process, but the
      outcome can be positive only if Arafat is not part of it. Israeli official
      analysts assess that Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are ready for a move
      that leaves Arafat out in order to bring stability to the region. Sharon
      has dropped the possibility of expelling Arafat at this stage as he believes
      that he can be neutralized with US assistance.

      What is the plan Sharon will put on the table in Washington? He will
      apparently tell them -- behind closed doors because the Likud Central
      Committee is convening to debate this issue -- that as he said in the past
      he is prepared to accept a Palestinian state at the end of the process.
      Instead of an interim arrangement -- which annoys the Palestinians and the
      Arabs -- he will say: Let's discuss the principles of the interim period.
      He will demand the establishment of a single armed force -- which is a
      good opportunity for Dahlan -- the unification of the security services, the
      acceptance of security responsibility, a changed structure, which means that
      there will not be a PA as we have known it, and it will not be headed by
      Yasir Arafat. Talking about changes and structural reforms in the PA,
      President Bush said today: We are prepared for the establishment of a
      Palestinian state, but not one based on terror and violence. Sharon will
      be received in the United States in a good pleasant atmosphere. The House
      and Senate yesterday passed very pro-Israeli resolutions. Sharon's people
      think that the Americans are prepared to support him in a move to neutralize
      Arafat if he puts real goods on the table.

      [Description of Source: Jerusalem Channel 2 Television in Hebrew --
      Commercial television; independent in content]

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