May 3, 2002


Whisper of betrayal as Arafat is shunned (Alan Philps, 03/05/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, emerged from a month of captivity to make a victory tour of Ramallah yesterday. But it was shunned by most of the populace, amid whispers of betrayal.

A small crowd of supporters joined him - only enough to fill the viewfinder of a television camera. There was no joy on the streets to celebrate the departure of the Israeli army after five months in the north of the city. Schoolchildren filled the gap left by volunteers.

The cause of the muttering among Palestinians was the agreement under which Mr Arafat ended the siege of his compound in return for handing over six Palestinian militants wanted by Israel into British-supervised custody.

"Arafat paid a very high price for his freedom," said one shopkeeper.

"The Israelis lifted the closure around his compound, but it remains imposed on all the Palestinians. We cannot move anywhere outside of town. It is an incomplete achievement."

According to British officials, the deal gives Mr Arafat his freedom of movement, including foreign travel and return. But the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, was quick to give warning that he would not guarantee his return if he stepped outside the Palestinian territories.

Can't you just see the scene in the coffee shops of Palestine as the patrons whisper about how, to their shock, it turns out Arafat only cares about saving his own skin? Posted by Orrin Judd at May 3, 2002 1:56 PM
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