Arafat's Images Examined Arafat's Origins Essay
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The West may even become addicted to you and your PLO (Pacepa 1987, 25)
The above conversation occurred in the early Carter administration, although the Romanian dictator first began advising and consorting with Arafat in 1972 (ibid, 37). Ceau-escu was not a prophet. Rather, he was just a shrewd dictatorial leader who knew how to use image, propaganda and the repetition of the same information over and over again until his viewpoint became the accepted one.
In Pacepa's narrative, Ceau-escu and Arafat were very close. Arafat saw Ceau-escu as a model and this model set the tone for the next more than two decades of Arafat's leadership of the PLO after their secret March, 1978 meeting in Bucharest. This meeting is so very important to understanding the development and history of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority from Oslo to the leader's death in 2004.
While agreeing with Ceau-escu on the methods of dealing with opponents, he was opposed to declaring a PLO government in exile. Arafat wanted the PLO's struggle to remain a revolution and not become a country. He claimed that the Palestinians lacked the ability to become a formal state, including the traditions, unity and discipline to do so. He said that a Palestinian state would be a failure from day one.
In confidence to Ceau-escu, he said that this would be something for a future generation. Ceau-escu then said that he could work through associated terror organizations that were not directly associated with him. This included furtively and effectively taking over Abu Nidal's "Black June" operation. He would maintain a pristine record and could maintain plausible deniability (ibid, 28).
One marvels at how effectively the Soviets handled the PLO leader, compared to his relative difficulty in handling by the West. Perhaps this had something to do with Arafat's alleged homosexuality, as documented by Pacepa's wire taps (ibid, 36). If this was so, this would provide incredible insights into the close, intimate and seemingly short leash that the Eastern Bloc seemed to have on the PLO leader who would definitely have wanted to keep this secret deeply in the closet to maintain his support in the ultraconservative societies of the Islamic world. If one were to engage in counterfactual historical speculation, one would really wonder what would have happened during say the al-Aqsa Intifada had the Palestinian people knew information about PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat's potential closet homosexuality (Shindler 2008, 284).
As the Second Intifada and he became less directly involved in the peace process. Effectively, from 2002 and on for more than two years, Arafat was confined to his Ramallah compound by the Israeli army. Gradually, he became more and more marginalized. For this reason and the short length of this discussion, the essay's examination of Arafat's life will not go beyond the Taaba talks. The Shindler text is excellent, but is much best with regard to the PLO and Yasser Arafat in the period since the beginning of the Oslo process and will remain the primary source for this section of the essay. This is why it is used as the primary text for the period of time from the early 1990's until Arafat's death in 2004. As Professor Shindler points out so many precious opportunities for peace slipped through the grasp of the participants in the peace process.
Because of the low key and unofficial nature of the Madrid conference, we will not consider it because it reflects little directly upon Arafat because he did not take part in it. However, the decisions at that 1991 conference had a direct impact upon and set the agenda for the later Oslo accords (ibid, 222-226). At Oslo, the most difficult problems were left off of the discussions. These included the right of return for the Palestinians and Jewish settlements. The excluded issues were left to be addressed in so-called permanent status talks.
In spite of the piecemeal nature of the talks, several breakthroughs were made. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat both agreed to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as an interim self-government in the Gaza Strip and in parts of the West Bank. In return for the PLO's recognition of Israel's right to exist and the promise not to conduct armed attacks (the disconnect between promise and reality will be considered below), Israel recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
In terms of armed struggle,
this continues against the State of Israel, despite PA promises. Rather than noting this glaring violation of the Oslo Accords and praising Israel's efforts to uphold a lack of violent activity, every U.S. administration from Bill Clinton's to Barack Obama's has pushed Israel to continue to try to negotiate with an increasingly rejectionist Palestinian Authority, first under Arafat now under his former lieutenant Mohammed Abbas.
Clinton Camp David Summit and the "Clinton Parameters":
President Clinton had called a summit at Camp David in July of 2000. He did this for the purpose of jump-starting the negotiations between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. As usual, the PLO was insisting on the principle of a right of return for all Palestinian refugees. Arafat offered that the details of the return could be negotiated.
Israel refused the right of return, but Prime Minister Barak offered 92% of the West Bank, all of Gaza and a swap of land for Jewish settlements on the West Bank. The PLO refused. They accused Israel of offering unarable areas of the Negev Desert for fertile areas on the West Bank. Countering Israel's offer, they demanded 100% of the West Bank. Israel offered to give up 3 of 4 quarters of the old city. The PA demanded full control over the Temple Mount. Israel refused this due to the risk to their religious sites. The second intifada then broke out, derailing the talks.
The Clinton Parameters then offered some proposals that would deal with the most difficult and protracted problems, including settlements, refugees and Jerusalem.
The Parameters offered the PA the following concessions:
Control over a viable, internationally recognized state with sovereignty and contiguous borders.
Control of the Al Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem.
Sovereignty over the Arab sections of Jerusalem to serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.
A settlement plan for refugees that was comprehensive. Several potions offered would include return to the new state of Palestine, a restricted return to the state of Israel, resettlement in a third country and/or compensation.
Clinton offered the Israelis:
80% of West Bank settlers would be able to stay that lived near the 1967 borders.
Guarantees of security.
Israeli control over Jewish sections of Jerusalem, to be internationally recognized as the capital of Israel.
Israeli control over and access to the Jewish Holy sites of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall.
One particularly mistaken characterization that Shindler made was an error with regard to the "Clinton Parameters" that the U.S. President proposed to Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat in the wake of the events following the collapse of the Camp David summit in December 2000. Barak had accepted the proposal. Arafat refused to respond and went off traveling. As Shindler points out, the Israeli government accepted the Clinton Parameters as the basis for ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Prime Minister Barak phoned Clinton on January 1, 2001 and then said he could not accept the deal before the general election.
Arafat traveled to Washington D.C. He met Clinton on January 2, 2001 and rejected the parameters. Unfortunately, these matters are still at the center of Israel's disputes with regard to the Syrians and the Palestinians (Shindler 2008, 279-281).
The new Bush administration tried to pick up the pieces in January 2001 at Taaba, Egypt, but the talks fell apart. Here, Israel proposed that it keep 6% of the West Bank. Disputes continued over refugees, land swaps, and sovereignty over the Temple Mount. The two sides were unable to reach agreement and the talks fell apart amid the worsening conditions during the second intifada (Ibid, 288-290). Unfortunately, the Shindler text paints the regrettable death of the peace process in the Second Intifada. Without this tragedy, we might have had peace today. It gives us pause and awe to think about what the tragedy of a third one would be for Israel now.
Arafat's Death and Legacy:
As noted earlier, Arafat was effectively confined to his Ramallah compound for more that two years by the Israeli Army. He became ill and had to be flown to Paris
where he died on 11 November 2004 at age 75 and was later laid to rest "temporarily" in his Ramallah compound after Israel denied his request to be buried near the Al-Aqsa Mosque or anywhere in Jerusalem. Since no autopsy was performed, the exact cause of death remains unknown. Even in death, Arafat holds mysteries.…
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