Arafat Calls End To Violence; What Now ?
The following statement written by journalist/activist Hans Lebrecht summarizes it well.
ARAFAT CALLS END TO VIOLENCE; WHAT NOW ?
In his December 16 TV address to the Palestinian Nation on the occasion of the Muslim Eid-el-Fitr festive holiday following the four-week fasting month of Ramadan, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat called to end the armed actions, especially the suicide bombings in Israel proper which have to cease.
He reminded that he and his PNA Authority have always denounced these bomb attacks in Israel proper as lending a hand to the Israeli extremists to justify their own brutal terror against the Palestinians. At the same time, he called upon the Israeli government to stop the war, Sharon has declared upon the Palestinian people, and to return to the negotiation table. The Palestinian goal was, and remains to move towards realizing the their vested rights to self-determination and setting up their independent state within the borders of the territories, occupied by Israel since 1967, including eastern Jerusalem with its holy sites, to be liberated, Arafat declared.
Already before Arafat-s address, his security forces closed down, and searched about 30 offices of the militant arm of the fundamentalist Hamas, the Izz-a-Din el-Kassem, and of the Jihad militia in Gaza and several West Bank cities.
The immediate reaction of the Sharon office and its mouthpieces was that, as before, Arafat and his “outburst” are irrelevant. Sharon-s spokesman, Gissin, (and in his wake White House spokesman Ari Fleisher) maintained, Arafat had not only to speak, but to act as demanded, arrest all the “terrorists” and actually move against their organizations, including his own, detain their leaders, as well as make place for a new leadership, prepared to collaborate with Israel. The alleged peace-maker, FM Peres blew in the same horn and stated, that “Arafat and his Authority have to get out from their terrorist cycle”.Not the oral promises of Arafat, “broken so often”, would count, but only concrete deeds on the grounds. War Minister Ben-Eliezer too stated that Arafat should not be trusted so easily. He had delivered nice talks, but “the test would be real and stiff actions against the Palestinian terror, to be seen yet”.
The official Parliamentary opposition chief, Meretz chair Yossi Sareed stated, Arafat-s speech was “promising, a relevant speech delivered by a person declared irrelevant by Sharon”. Israeli peace organizations and activists from Gush-Shalom, Hadash, the Communist Forum, the Women Coalition for Peace and others, as well as Arab Knesset members, published statements, calling upon Sharon and his cabinet, to answer Arafat-s call by ending the military terror against the Palestinians, to withdraw from all Palestinian areas seized lately, relieve the closures and blockades, as well as to return to the negotiation table without delay.
Many observers in Israel and among the Palestinian public are expressing their suspicion that Sharon and his military “security” brass would answer Arafat-s call to end violence by designing new provocative acts, such as terror raids upon Palestinian targets and more extra-juridical assassinations of leading resistance cadres, in order to provoke Palestinian retaliation to be utilized again by Israeli and U.S. Zionist lobby propaganda media to show that the Palestinians are nothing else but a bunch of terrorist gangs and Arafat their Bin-Laden-like scare-crow. This, anyway is the way, Sharon has quite successfully acted until now. There is no reason to believe he has changed.
Hans Lebrecht, Kibbutz Beit-Oren, December 17, 2001, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 972 4 8307 237, Fax: 972 4 823 25 24,