Words Or Action?
Calls for Palestinian reform, nonviolence grow as intifada sputters after two years.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
hen Palestinian Authority leader Yasser
Arafat condemned Palestinian attacks
inside Israel this week, he wasn't only
trying to please Israeli moderates.
He also was responding to calls from a growing
number of Palestinian figures who believe that the
two-year-old intifada (uprising) has reached a dead
end, and that the Palestinian struggle against Israel
must take a more moderate course.
The two most prominent voices in this context are
Nabil Amer, the P.A.'s former minister for parliamen-
tary affairs, and the new interior minister, Abdel
In an article this week in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the
EA.'s house organ, former editor Amer urged Arafat
to admit that he had erred when he turned to vio-
lence two years ago and that the Palestinians were
unlikely to receive now what they had been offered
by President Clinton and former Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak at the Camp David summit in
"We failed in the management of the historical
process that we faced," Amer wrote.
This week, there was another call for an end to
violence — although it did appear to justify some
acts of terror. On Tuesday, Arafat's Fatah movement
released a letter saying it will prevent attacks on civil-
ians in Israel, but suggested it will continue to target
Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
There was some confusion, however, surrounding
the letter. A Fatah leader in the West Bank said it was
not the final version and that the Fatah leadership
still had some reservations about the text.
Amer, 53, resigned four months ago from the P.A.
cabinet, demanding general reform. He spearheaded
the demand for the establishment of a cabinet of
technocrats who would help unify all security bodies,
ensure judicial independence and call for early elec-
Palestinian legislators meeting this week in
Ramallah echoed those demands.
Indeed, some of the legislators threatened Tuesday
to topple Arafat's new cabinet. The lawmakers said
the cabinet, reshuffled by Arafat in June, still con-
tains corrupt ministers (see story below).
The Palestinian legislative council convened this
week for a vote on the cabinet, but it was not clear
whether Arafat supporters would try to delay it.
The council convened a week after Yehiyeh's dra-
matic appeal in a Reuters interview for an end to vio-
lence against Israel. He repeated those comments in
other interviews over the weekend, including inter-
views to the Palestinian press.
Instead of violence, Yehiyeh suggested, Palestinians
should resort to nonviolent resistance.
"Let's admit it — we have lost a lot," Yehiyeh said
of suicide attacks in the Reuters interview. "I am not
saying this side is to blame, or
that. I'm saying there is occupa-
tion and dealing with occupation
in this manner has harmed us.
Therefore, we have to find other
ways to deal with it.
"The Palestinian leadership
condemns every suicide attack,"
he continued. "Shall we stop at
condemnation? Is condemnation
our only job? I say the whole con-
cept has to change."
The encouragement of suicide
bombing has been destructive not
just to the Palestinians' interna-
tional image, but to the younger
generation of Palestinians,
Arafat recently appointed
Yehiyeh, 63, in an effort to show
the Bush administration that
indeed he was interested in
ALL NEW 2002
reform. Thus, some analysts said, Yehiyeh's moderate
statements reflect Arafat's new line.
In fact, the analysts said, Yehiyeh can express views
that Arafat himself is reluctant to express for fear of
antagonizing militants in Hamas, the Islamic Jihad
and the Al-Aqsa Brigade of Arafat's own Fatah move-
Others speculated that Yehiyeh is part of a good
cop/bad cop routine in which moderate statements
are made to please the international community
while, on the ground, P.A. forces do little against ter-
A senior Israeli official told Reuters that he wel-
comed Yehiyeh's remarks, but said Israel wanted
action, not words.
"There is a need to assume authority, to take full
control the situation," the official said. "If they don't
control the streets, the terrorists will control" them.
Woiws on page 30
afat's 21-member cabinet was forced to
being ousted by legislators in a no-confidence
re lawmikers were to hold the vote, cabinet.min-
a resignations to Arafat.
on and incompetence among cabinet members, a
*kit* at the session of the Palestinian legisla-
i.said they would vote against Arafat's cabinet.
fat set Jan. 20 as the date for Palestinian presiden-
elections, The United States had sought to delay
s of having the Palestinians create the
eve aimed at turning Arafat into a figure-
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