October 12, 2003


Dispute between Arafat and prime minister deepen, threatening new government (MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH, October 11, 2003, Associated Press)

Yasser Arafat fought with his new prime minister Saturday over who should be the new Palestinian security chief, in a deepening dispute that threatens to bring down the government appointed less than a week ago.

In an argument with Arafat two days ago, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia hinted he might step down, a possibility that appeared more likely as their fight continued into the night Saturday. As it stands now, Qureia's Cabinet, which Arafat appointed by decree Oct. 5, will serve for one month as planned. [...]

The argument between Arafat and Qureia centered on the appointment of Nasser Yousef as interior minister, a position that would make him the head of the Palestinian security forces. Arafat's refusal to give up full control of those forces led Mahmoud Abbas to resign as prime minister last month after only four months.

Arafat, who named Yousef interior minister in an eight-member emergency Cabinet less than a week ago, withdrew his support for his longtime ally after Yousef refused to participate in a swearing-in of the Cabinet on Tuesday, Palestinian sources said Saturday.

Yousef said he wanted to wait until the government had parliamentary backing. Some saw that as a brazen slight to Arafat, who presided over the ceremony, and a signal of independence to U.S. officials, who hoped to marginalize Arafat and convince the new Cabinet to crack down on militant groups, in line with the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan.

It's disgraceful that Israel and the U.S. continue to demand regime change in Palestine but then refuse to provide more help those who are trying to wrest power from Arafat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 12, 2003 6:49 AM

Disgraceful is not the word.

How decent people the world over can let Israel get away with maintaining Arafat in power is utterly beyond comprehension.

And where are the neo-cons when you really need them? In Sharon's pocket, no doubt. Along with Bush, Condi, Dick, and Colin. ("Deep Pocket": coming soon to a theater near you....)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at October 12, 2003 7:53 AM

How in the world could a Palestinian leader gain support once it's understood that Israel is "providing him help"? It seems like they have to play the game they did with Abbas.

Posted by: Matt C at October 12, 2003 8:29 AM

The Palestinians are going to have to battle it out among themselves in order to subdue their own militant factions before any peace agreement with Israel has a chance to be anything more than a "feel good" document signing ceremony, as was the case with Oslo. Arafat's continued presence lowers the chances of that battle happening any time soon, though it would be better if the acutary tables simply caught up with him, so the militants would be less able to tar whatever moderate Palestinians there are out there with being tools of the Israelis and the Americans.

Posted by: John at October 12, 2003 10:04 AM


They left Abbas dangling too.

Posted by: OJ at October 12, 2003 10:55 AM


If they end goal is a signed agreement then Israel has already lost.

Posted by: OJ at October 12, 2003 10:57 AM

Mr. Judd;

I think Matt's point is, what exactly could Israel do to "support" Abbas or Qureia? While it is frequently a trope, in this case it seems likely that any accomodation by Israel for one of these guys would instantly discredit them, so there's really nothing Israel can do except dispose of Arafat, the real problem.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 12, 2003 11:46 AM


Turn over control faster. These non-Arafat leaders would be seen to be quickly winning concessions, while for Israel the point is to concede as quickly as possible.

Posted by: OJ at October 12, 2003 11:55 AM

Except, oj, that that would be a trap by the cunning, immoral, god-hating Israelis, and hence totally unacceptable.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at October 12, 2003 12:05 PM


Don't ask, just do.

Posted by: OJ at October 12, 2003 1:11 PM

Gosh, now you're sounding like Ben Gurion....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at October 12, 2003 6:55 PM