[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

Arafat Should Step Down
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2004


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] There is an old expression: “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.” This applies with precision to Yasir Arafat, the President of the Palestinian authority. He is now the single largest obstacle to progress in the resolution of the Arab Israeli conflict.

Arafat has blood on his hands from numerous suicide bombings that have maimed and killed thousands of Israelis. At one time, many Palestinians viewed him as a romantic revolutionary, their hero, willing to stand up to superior Israeli military force. In recent months, Arafat’s support has nose dived among his own people. And for good reason.

At Camp David, in the closing days of the Clinton Administration, Clinton’s pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Barak led the Israeli leader to offer terms for a settlement more generous than anyone could have imagined. Barak was proposing a reasonable territorial agreement, calling for extensive Israeli withdrawals from Gaza and the West Bank. In addition, Israel was prepared to yield ground on two of their previous non-negotiable points: the sovereignty of Jerusalem and return of Palestinian refugees.

The American negotiators believed Arafat would take the deal and with good reason. It gave the Palestinians the independent state they have wanted for so many years. The atmosphere at Camp David at that point was optimistic. Members of the Palestinian delegation flatly told the American negotiators that the parties had a deal.

Then the always mercurial Arafat left both Clinton and Barak at the alter. The former Nobel Prize winner for “peace” gave a resounding “no” to the Israeli offer. It was a travesty for the Palestinian people, who are more in need of a settlement than the Israelis.

Following Camp David, Arafat did something far worse. He launched the intifada, a fancy word for having Palestinian civilians, including teenagers and pregnant women, strap explosives filled with nails to their bodies. They slipped into Israel and blew themselves up on Israeli buses, in restaurants, and at busy intersections.

For several months, the intifada took a tremendous toll on Israel. Gradually, through superior intelligence, construction of a security barrier and assassination of terrorist leaders, Israel has gained the upper hand. Many of the assassinations have been perfectly timed and civilian deaths have been minimal. Their result has been significant. Once you cut off the head of the snake, it stops moving.

Thus, after so many long months of violence, it is clear that Arafat has led the Palestinian people into even more misery. Understandably, Palestinian jobs in Israel have been terminated with a devastating effect on the Palestinian economy. Gaza and the West Bank have become a virtual prison. Thank you Yasir Arafat.

But there’s more to it than that. Arafat’s rule has been characterized by enormous corruption, cronyism and indifference to what his people want. His pals line their pockets with cash. Friends and relatives, most recently Arafat’s nephew, are appointed to key positions, regardless of their lack of qualification.

As an apparent concession to internal critics, Arafat permitted the election of a Palestinian Prime Minister. Two have been chosen. Each time, Arafat undercut the Prime Minister’s power. Arafat has refused to permit the organization of an effective security force, for fear he would lose control of the Palestinian military.

There are many intelligent, pragmatic Palestinians who are sick and tired of what Arafat is doing to their people. Increasingly, they are making their voices heard.

Prime Minister Sharon’s decision to withdraw from Gaza has provided the catalyst for the Palestinian opponents of Arafat. They realize that they are being presented a golden opportunity. Self rule in Gaza. It will be the beginning of a Palestinian state to be joined by territory on the West Bank. But it will require institutions in order to govern.

As long as Arafat continues to rule, there will be no development of governmental institutions. No dialogue with the United States. No international support. Even the Europeans, Arafat’s biggest supporters in the past, are now fed up with him.

Arafat’s people are in tatters. Their land is in ruins. Still, this seventy-four year old, who has outlived his utility, clings to power. There is only one good thing he can now do for the Palestinian people: resign.