Israeli Media Reports Possibility of Arafat Resignation; Israel To Escalate Attacks Against Fatah Leaders

Published January 20th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

In what appears to be a carefully orchestrated Israeli campaign to pressure and de-legitimize Yasser Arafat, the Israeli media Sunday reported that the Palestinian leader is weighing his resignation.  

 

Based on a “Palestinian source”, Arafat is allegedly fed up with what he considers the abandonment of the Palestinians in the face of Israeli escalation, including the continuing closure on PA territories. 

 

According to a story appearing in Yediot Aharonot the most circulated Hebrew daily, Israeli sources contend PA officials, including Fuad Shubaki, head of the PA's armed forces finance department, are in the process of liquidating real estate and oil interests in Europe prior to a possible exit from the region.  

 

Arab Member of Israel’s Knesset Ahmed Tibi dismissed the report, saying it was part of an Israeli army’s disinformation campaign against the PA.  

 

Arafat himself met last night in Ramallah with a number of foreign guests. ''The current situation is very dangerous,'' he told journalists at his Ramallah compound, following these meetings. ''I call on the international community to make an immediate move to rescue the situation before it explodes,'' Arafat added. 

 

Israel Plans Escalation 

 

Meanwhile, Israel plans to continue its retaliatory military actions it initiated this weekend following the attack in Hadera last Thursday night that left six Israelis dead. According to Israeli security sources, cited by Haaretz daily, targets connected to the Palestinian Authority and Fatah will be the focus of these attacks.  

 

These Israeli sources added that leaders of Arafat’s Fatah movement, including Marwan Baragouthi, Fatah's secretary general in the West Bank, “should know that their lives were in danger.”  

 

Israeli security sources accused Baragouthi of having approved Hadera attack. The sources told Yediot Aharonot that an investigation by the Shin Beth (Israel’s internal security agency) revealed the attacker Abdelsalam Sadeq Hasunah was linked to a Tulkarem cell of the Tanzim, or Fatah gunmen, "directly under (Marwan) Baragouthi's control." "The Hadera attack was known by Marwan Baragouthi and given his approval," these sources charged.  

 

An Israeli missile hit Baragouthi’s convoy last August, injuring one of his entourage just outside his offices in Ramallah. 

 

In a related development, Israel’s Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said Sunday that U.S. Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni, and Undersecretary of State William Burns, had delayed their return to the region in order to send Arafat a strong message that as long as he does not take steps to counter “terrorism,” "there is nothing to talk about."  

 

Ben-Eliezer, speaking after a goverment meeting to discuss Israel's response to the attack in Hadera, conveyed that the security establishment had received many serious warnings of imminent “terror” attacks to be carried out by Palestinian groups. (Albawaba.com) 

© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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