New PA Cabinet Still Arafat’s
Vol: 26 Issue: 13 Thursday, November 13, 2003
Yasser Arafat’s hand-picked prime minister was narrowly approved by the Palestinian parliament by a vote of 48-36. With that vote, Ahmed Queria was confirmed as the second prime minister of the Palestinian Authority this year.
Following the PLC session, some legislators attacked Qureia and his new cabinet: “We don’t feel there is anything new in Qureia’s program,” said Jamal Shati, a legislator from Jenin. “This is repetition of previous cabinet programs. For seven years we have been hearing similar speeches. In addition, we see that the new formation includes ministers who served in all the previous cabinets.”
Yossi Alpher, who co-edits bitterlemons.org, writes that instead of recreating a new Palestinian government, Arafat has insured that needed reforms will not take place.
“Arafat’s most recent success at domestic political manipulation is to oblige Abu Alaa (Ahmed Qureia) to form a government that does not even aspire to control the Palestinian Authority’s security establishment. By retaining overall control, Arafat can ensure that violence continues and that the means for committing it continue to exist. Abu Alaa may or may not succeed in negotiating a new ceasefire, which could give us all a few weeks of relief. But he will not be a peacemaker as long as Arafat is his master.”
And there is no question that Arafat remains Queria’s master. The two were deadlocked for weeks, delaying the formation of the government, until Queria surrendered control of the internal security forces to Yasser Arafat and accepted Arafat’s hand-picked cabinet.
Hakam Balawi is the new Minister of the Interior. He is a long-time Arafat loyalist, joined Arafat’s Fatah movement upon its founding in 1965 and represented the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Libya in the early 1970s and then in Tunis until 1998. Balawi will be in charge of police, civil defense and internal security forces. Other services will be under the National Security Council headed by Arafat.
Nabil Sha’ath is another long-time Fatah loyalist and key advisor to Yasser Arafat. Now he is also the Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister.
Saeb Erekat is the new Minister for Negotiation Affairs. He is in exactly the same job he was in before the government was formed, only now he is a cabinet minister.
Back when the Quartet launched the so-called road map to peace, one of the conditions was that Arafat be sidelined and the Palestinians present a negotiator independent of Arafat with the authority to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
President Bush assured a skeptical Ariel Sharon that there was hope for the road map, if Arafat wasn’t involved. Six months later, all the pretenses are dropped. Arafat is as firmly in charge as he ever was, and Queria has no more authority than did his predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas, who resigned earlier this year for that reason.
The Western press is reporting that Arafat has turned over a new leaf; he has reaffirmed Israel’s right to exist, and ‘extended an olive branch’ of peace to the Israelis.
In a speech selectively quoted in the Western press, Arafat said, “The Israeli government says we do not want peace. I tell them this is not true. We will not retract this recognition of the rights of the Israeli people to live in security and peace, alongside the Palestinians, independent in an independent state. The time has come, Israelis, to emerge from this cycle of destructive war which gives no security, justice or peace to either of us.”
Some other quotes from the same speech didn’t make the cut: “The Haram al-Sharif [Temple Mount] and all other sacred places, Christian and Muslim, are being violated by the Israelis. They have not stopped at this. Our brothers and sisters in Hebron and Bethlehem are suffering unbearable violations against their holy places, including the Church of the Nativity which was violated and closed.”
It is interesting that Arafat brought up the ‘violation’ of the Church of the Nativity as an Israeli ‘crime’. It was Palestinian terrorists working for Arafat who seized the church in a standoff with Israeli troops over the Christmas week 2001, urinating and defecating on the very place Christ is believed to have been born.
One quote from Arafat’s speech was particularly ironic. Speaking of his desire for ‘peace’ with the Israelis, Arafat said, “My life is not more precious than the smallest Palestinian child [killed in the ongoing violence].”
This is only two days after it was revealed Arafat whisked his wife and daughter away to Paris to keep them safe from the uprising, on a monthly stipend of $100,000.00. Apparently, theirs is.
Arafat went on, “This is the criminal Israeli war to attempt to uproot the Palestinian people and to impose settlement and settlers on our land and to prevent us from establishing our independent state with its capital in Jerusalem.”
And back we go to Square One. Arafat’s impossible claim back on the table. An independent Palestinian state with its capital in JERUSALEM.
“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zechariah 12:3)