August 24, 2004
Friend of FLAME:
For years, as you know, Israel and the United States have found it impossible to strike a deal for peace with the Palestinians because of the obstinacy, lies and bad faith of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority's leader. We've also read much in the world press about Arafat's skimming of hundreds of millions of dollars from the PA's coffers in order to make himself one of the world's richest men and enable his wife to live a sumptuously in Paris. You're also no doubt aware that the PA is run as a dictatorship by Arafat, whose administration is marked by nepotisim, lawlessness and flat-out corruption. All this is old news. What's new is the findings, outlined below, by an agency of the Palestinian Council itself, confirming these practices and laying blame for recent chaos in the territories at Arafat's feet. While this conclusion is no surprise, the fact that an official Palestinian body is making such findings public is groundbreaking and could signal the beginning of the end of Arafat's reign of terror, cronyism and incompetence. We can only hope.
Palestinian inquiry blames Yasser Arafat for anarchy
by Arnon Regular, August 11, Haaretz
Palestinian Legislative Council investigation into the reasons for the
chaos in the Palestinian Authority found that the main reason for the
anarchy is that the PA and its leader, Yasser Arafat, have failed to
make a clear political decision to end it. The report calls for an end
to Qassam rocket fire into Israel and attacks inside Israel, the resignation
of the Ahmed Qureia government and general elections.
"The main reason for the failure of the Palestinian security forces
and their lack of action in restoring law and order," says the
report prepared by the five-member PLC committee, "is the total
lack of a clear political decision and no definition of their roles,
either for the long term or the short."
The PLC panel last month interviewed dozens of people, ranging from
Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia to leading commanders of security forces,
as well as Fatah activists from all over Gaza. The testimony is strikingly
frank, and includes charges that the PA leadership failed to build state
institutions so it ended up using clan mechanisms instead of the law
to deal with out-of-control armed factions.
The report calls on Arafat and Qureia to define in law the role of the
security forces, and to issue presidential orders to operate them until
those laws are passed. The report also lashes out at the National Security
Council that Arafat heads, for failing to set security strategy. It
calls on Arafat "to use his authority to issue immediate orders
to end all the dangerous activity taking place in the Gaza Strip by
some of the commanders and men of the armed security forces intimidating
the citizenry, creating chaos and harming the supreme interests of the
The panel included Arafat loyalists as well as reformers, including
Nabil Amr, who was shot at the height of the chaos and subsequently
had to have his leg amputated. The committee was set up in early July
against the background of a deteriorating rule of law and order in the
territories, particularly in the Gaza Strip, during the preceding months.
At the height of its deliberations came the dramatic series of clashes,
kidnappings and even shootouts between various Palestinian security
The committee held back its final report until things had calmed down
on the Palestinian side. In the coming days, Mohammed Dahlan, who has
claimed the reformer's position, is due to meet with Arafat, ostensibly
to settle the differences between them. Arafat was given the report's
conclusions during the crisis of the past month.
The panel heard testimony from various people, including Qureia and
top security officers, journalists, Fatah activists from all over Gaza
and others. Qureia appeared before the panel on July 17, a few hours
after Arafat conducted a shake-up in security appointments in Gaza,
including naming his cousin Mussa Arafat as head of security in Gaza,
which sparked turmoil throughout the Strip. Qureia tried, mostly in
vain, to rebuff criticism from the panel members. "The government's
hesitation occurs because it is determined to continue trying to reach
understandings with President Arafat."
Apparently understanding that the panel would call for his resignation,
the PA premier reiterated many times during his testimony that he inherited
the chaos and had done his best to deal with it. He said made great
efforts to assuage the members of Fatah's armed wing, trying to take
care of them financially and politically, to calm down the situation.
On July 17, he was still talking about his determination to resign as
prime minister, but declared himself ready to serve under any new premier.
Within a few days, he withdrew his resignation.
On July 14, PA Interior Minister Hakim Balawi gave revealing testimony.
He refrained from mentioning Arafat by name, but his words were clearly
aimed at the PA chairman. "We lost control because of hesitation
in the decision-making process, and because we did not speak to the
street about what we wanted and about the political situation ... The
National Security Council is the address for security responsibility.
But in Gaza all that exists are symbols of PA authority. There is readiness
on the part of the security forces, we have tens of thousands of security
men, but there is no clear and sincere decision and the political plan
is not defined.
"... It is prohibited to launch rockets and to fire weapons from
houses, and that is a supreme Palestinian interest that should not be
violated because the result is barbaric retaliation by the occupying
army and the citizenry cannot accept such shooting. Those who do it
are a certain group that does not represent the people and nation, doing
it without thinking about the general interest and public opinion in
the world and in Israel. There is no vision or purpose to the missiles;
the Palestinian interest is more important," Balawi said.
"Sharon conducted his policy unobstructed for a long time, until
The Hague decision about the fence came along and changed everything.
But nonetheless, we continue to take the illogical path and don't recognize
international and regional developments."
According to Balawi, the past four months of security coordination with
Israel have resulted in no suicide bombings - "but we still use
the rhetoric that does not believe in a hudna (cease-fire) and an agreement,
saying that all of Palestine belongs to the Waqf [Muslim religious trust].
These are Hamas slogans."
The next day, the chief of General Intelligence in Gaza, Amin al Hindi,
appeared before the panel. He blamed "a lack of institutions, from
the outset, a lack of rules and regulations, with no clear goals and
no unequivocal handling of the security forces.
"Nobody was put on trial for violating rules because there were
no rules, and since there were no budgets, security forces began operating
at the whim of their commanders, and doing what others, like the NSC,
were not doing, looking for new authority for themselves. The hidden
unemployment inside the security forces and the inflated number of security
people resulted in enormous resources being wasted on workers who were
not suited for the services.
"Proper management requires each force to select its people according
to its needs and missions. But there is a vagueness about authority.
The General Intelligence force is directly subordinate to Arafat but
administratively and financially it is subordinate to other people and
the forces have no independence when it comes to appointments, promotions
or punishments for their people. The forces cannot defend themselves
and people are sometimes forced to find self-protection in the form
of their clans and families," al Hindi said.
He went on to point out that the PA courts are weak, "the police
make us release criminals and collaborators. My investigators are subject
to threats from the families and relatives of people under arrest on
criminal and security charges.
"The plans to improve the situation are not being implemented because
of a lack of a commitment by all to change, and because of narcissism.
My mission is to implement political decisions concerning security and
the responsibility is on the shoulders of the political decision maker.
"And there is another important reason," said al Hindi. "Yasser
Arafat's orders go out to a large number of security commanders, sometimes
to ten at once, and ultimately, nobody actually carries them out."
Al Hindi said that "political decisions have to be made by Arafat,
even if they are not spoken publicly," to help execute security
Three days later, Rashid Abu Shbak, head of Preventive Security in Gaza
and a Dahlan ally, appeared before the panel. He said security was at
an all-time low in Gaza, and while he blamed the occupation for the
deterioration "of security and social norms," some of the
blame for the situation falls on the PA. He said "most of the security
forces do not have discipline or control over their people. Each organization
does what it wants and imposes its will on the PA, and no side can say
it is in control.
"Shooting rockets from Beit Hanun creates an excuse for a new occupation
and the citizenry is helpless. Most of the militiamen represent the
general atmosphere instead of the law and order and the PA. It is threatening
the entire national project ... we have been handling the problems all
wrong. We discuss the problem with the person who created it and give
into their illegal demands ... we encouraged this and accepted it, against
the law and against the very spirit of statehood. There is no deterrence
of criminals and collaborators, and we are forced to deal with problems
using clan methods, rather than legal methods. If this continues, it
will send difficult messages to our people, to the Israelis who claim
there is no Palestinian partner and to the international community,
that we don't deserve a state."
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