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End Of The Road For Arafat?


National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said Sunday that the "current direction of the Palestinians" does not allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state." Speaking to television interviewers, she specified that the problem lies with Yasir Arafat and his leadership. Amidst increasing calls even within the PA for changes and improvements, PA Cabinet member Nabil Amar submitted his resignation Saturday, explaining that Arafat had rejected his demand for "deep reforms" in the Cabinet and the PA's security organs.

Sharon Takes Peace Plan to Washington

By VOA's Ross Dunn (Jerusalem), Paula Wolfson (Washington) & Gamla News

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is visiting the United States with a new peace plan that proposes excluding the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat. But he may a have hard time convincing President Bush during their meeting Tuesday. Sharon is proposing a new peace process that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian State - without Arafat as its president.

Before leaving for the United States, the prime minister told reporters that he wanted to discuss with Bush his plan for peace with the Palestinians. He insisted that. Arafat should not be allowed to take part in negotiations.

Sharon said he will present a detailed report linking Arafat to terror attacks. Under Sharon's plan, Israeli military operations inside Palestinian areas would stop, provided there were no more attacks.

During an interim period, the Palestinian Authority would be allowed to rebuild its infrastructure and institutions, which were badly damaged or destroyed during Israel's campaign to eradicate Palestinian terror positions in Gaza and the West Bank. Sharon's hope is that the United States and the European Union would accept that Arafat should be replaced.

The Sharon plan, at the end of the interim period, would have negotiations begin on the establishment of a Palestinian State, but without Arafat. However, reports in American newspapers suggest that Bush is far from convinced that there is another Palestinian leader who could replace Arafat.

Meanwhile, violence continued Sunday in the West Bank. A Palestinian woman and her two children were killed when Israeli soldiers mistakenly opened fire on them after an explosive device detonated near a tank in the town of Jenin. And in a separate incident, Israeli authorities are investigating how a Palestinian held on suspicion of attempted murder of an Israeli naval officer was able to escape while being transported in chains earlier in the day.

While Ariel Sharon was making his way to Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell was talking about the Middle East on U.S. television. In a series of interviews, he made clear that the administration will press the prime minister on sensitive points, including the future of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, and the need to deal with Arafat.

Powell told NBC's Meet the Press that Israel cannot hope to negotiate peace while building new settlements. "I think it is clear both in the previous administration and in this administration that something has to be done about the problem of settlements.".

In a subsequent interview on the ABC program This Week, the secretary of state was asked about Israeli efforts to discredit Arafat, and dismiss him as a negotiating partner. He said as long as the Palestinian people back Arafat, the Israelis have to bow to reality. "It serves our interests, the Israeli interests and the interests of the Palestinian people and the other nations in the region," Powell said. "It serves us all better if we continue to work with all Palestinian leaders and to recognize who the Palestinian people look to as their leader."

Bush has been pushing Arafat to take action to combat terrorism and violence, and has said the Palestinian leader has not earned his trust. The president's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, told the Fox television network that the United States can not chose the leader of the Palestinian people. During an appearance on television's Fox News Sunday she stressed the White House strongly believes the Palestinian Authority must implement reforms.

"The Palestinian leadership that is there now, the Authority, is not the kind of leadership that can lead to the kind of Palestinian state that we need," she said. "It has got to reform, it has got to make changes in the security apparatus, in the Constitution, in the way that it leads."

Ignorant of his prospects in the White House, Sharon decided to put together some cards of his own. First he leaked details of his peace plan - one drawn up by Israel's national security council and gathering dust in a bottom drawer. Then, he chose a more powerful card: publication of the Barghouti file.

The Ramallah Fatah-Tanzim chief Marwan Barghouti was arrested two weeks ago towards the end of Operation Defensive Shield. He has been under intense interrogation since. The file contains his testimony on how he planned dozens of shooting, bombing and suicide attacks against Israelis and recruited terrorists for perpetrating them. The testimony comes in the form of written statements, recordings and videotaped reconstructions of the attacks he led.

Running through the file is his constant assertion of Arafat's complicity. In one place he says: "When I planned this attack and others and found we were short of funds, I turned to Yasir Arafat and told him we needed more money. Before approving the funds, the president asked me to explain every detail. He knew about each attack down to the last detail and the cost of each item needed to put it into motion."

The GAMLA News Ticker also reported that Minister Danny Naveh, who oversaw the writing of the 100-page document, noted that many PA "policemen" received salaries for simply carrying out terrorist activity against Israel.

The file also shows that the EU sent over $9 million monthly to the PA for purposes such as building homes for refugees, food and medicine, and that Arafat diverted much of it - up to 2/3, in some months - to the Tanzim's Al Aqsa Brigades and other terrorist organizations. Larger sums of money from Arab countries were also diverted in this manner. In addition, much of the money also ended up in the pockets of senior PA officials, according to testimony gathered by Israeli investigators.

The evidence appears to be so convincing that PA officials are not even bothering to deny it. Ziyad Abu Ziyad, speaking with Israel Radio Sunday morning, merely said, "We must put the past behind us... We were at war."

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