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New Details on the Alleged Plot to Kill Arafat
A senior ranking figure in the main Palestinian political party Fateh has just made a series of powerful allegations against the current head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and his former strongman, Mahmoud Dahlan, a former head of the Preventative Security services in Gaza.
Farouq al Qaddoumi, the current Secretary General of Fateh’s Central Committee held a press conference in Amman, Jordan on July 12, in which he disclosed information that constitutes a “heavy duty hydrogen bombshell” - to use his words - on the legitimacy of the current Palestinian leadership.
Holding up three typeset pages in Arabic, Qaddoumi claimed he had the minutes of a secret meeting between Abu Mazen, Mahmoud Dahlan, former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, former Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz, and an American delegation led by William Burns, then a State Department envoy. The meeting was presumably held in the run up to the June 4, 2003 Aqaba Summit where the Israeli and Palestinian sides declared their commitment to the Quartet-sponsored Road Map.
The document essentially recounts that Abu Mazen and Dahlan were privy to Israeli intentions to assassinate Arafat through poisoning. The need to get rid of Arafat and other Palestinian resistance figures is described as a means to facilitate an internal putsch within the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fateh so that a new class of leaders led by Abu Mazen and Dahlan, could take control. After the second Intifada began, large sections of the international community and the Israeli leadership looked to Abu Mazen and Dahlan as more compliant figures, in contrast to the more mercurial Arafat.
Qaddoumi claims the minutes were entrusted to him by Arafat before his death, though he did not disclose how he received them or how Arafat supposedly got them in the first place. Despite being a founder of the modern PLO, Qaddoumi refused to return to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) after the 1993 Oslo Accords as many did in the PLO leadership, due to his opposition to the agreements. He is considered a thorn in the side of the current leadership of the PA because his high-ranking, yet oppositional Fateh stripes, gets him press time, and is less easily brushed aside. His local influence is nonetheless limited due to his non-presence in the OPT.
A little context is in order to understand the content of the meeting minutes, whose exclusively English language transcript is provided below.
At the time, the second Palestinian uprising had been going on for more than two years, and Israel had invaded the areas controlled by the PA in an attempt to liquidate the popular resistance there. Israel had surrounded Arafat’s headquarters (the Moqata’a) seeing him as a crucial factor in the national movement’s continued resistance and morale. Arafat had refused repeated Israeli and U.S. demands to crack down on the uprising himself. Furthermore the Palestinian leader’s defiant stance in the Camp David negotiations, where Arafat failed to sign on to U.S. and Israeli conditions for a peace deal which did not fulfill Palestinian national rights according to relevant U.N. resolutions, made him obsolete as far as U.S. and Israeli interests were concerned.
There were also increasing signs that Fateh as a party was unraveling. The Israeli invasions into Palestinian cities brought about heavy pressure for “reform” of the PA, both internationally as well as from within the Palestinian political arena, including Fateh, which held the majority of key positions in the government. Political, generational, and experiential differences divided the party, and an alliance appeared to take shape between Israeli, American and E.U. interests on the one hand, and Fateh reformers on the other, to sideline Arafat and his stalwarts within the government.
Under heavy pressure, Arafat was forced to create the position of Prime Minister in February 2003, as a form of power sharing, with Abu Mazen designated by the U.S. and Israel as the only viable candidate. Arafat saw this as a way he could buy time from what was his own political cornering, besieged in his headquarters and isolated by the West. Arafat would eventually apply pressure back on Abu Mazen in September 2003, rallying Fateh around him not to take Abu Mazen’s orders and ensuring the security services were under his influence. Abu Mazen took the hint and subsequently resigned both as Prime Minister and as head of Fateh’s Central Committee.
It is difficult to determine the authenticity of Qaddoumi’s allegations, though there is widespread belief in the Palestinian political arena that Arafat indeed was assassinated by poisoning when he died in November 2004.
The causes of Arafat’s sudden and mysterious illness have yet to be fully disclosed either by his family or the Palestinian political leadership. Presumptions of assassination have been raised before by figures like Arafat’s personal doctor, and other historic Palestinian figures like Bassam Abu Sharif, who personally warned Arafat of this potential. Qaddoumi claims that Abu Mazen refused to have an autopsy performed on Arafat to know the cause or type of the poison, and prevented an internal investigation within Fateh to try and root out conspirators.
The release of Qaddoumi’s document now appears to be not entirely random. Fateh is embroiled in internal discussions as it tries to convene its Sixth Conference - the major policy and leadership-setting convention of the party. Debates over when and where the convention will be held have hamstrung the party as internal conflict over power, leadership and direction appear to be ripping the party apart. This will be the first Fateh conference held in more than 21 years, a fact that has meant that two generations of party activists have been prevented from exercising real leadership.
Qaddoumi claimed he held onto the documents until now for an assortment of reasons to do with the inappropriateness of previous political moments.
The Executive Committee of the PLO has already responded by calling Qaddoumi’s allegations “nothing but the fabrications of a sick imagination of a leader who has lost all components of political and personal balance.” Abbas Zaki, a member of the Central Committee of the PLO in Lebanon said on Wednesday that the Central Committee will hold an emergency session to assess Qaddoumi’s allegations.
In any respect, the transcript reads like a couple of pages from the script of a Godfather movie, and are indeed shocking if proved true. Irrespective of what comes of the allegations or any investigation into them, the affair shows the extent to which the principle Palestinian political party, which has led the national movement for the past 40 plus years, is so deeply divided that it appears to be imploding on camera.
TRANSCRIPT translated by Toufic Haddad
Sharon: I insisted on this meeting before the [Aqaba] Summit so we can finalize all security matters and put the final touches so as not to encounter any confusion or discrepancies in the future.
Dahlan: If you didn’t ask for this meeting, I would have.
Sharon: To begin with, work must begin on killing all the military and political leaders of Hamas, the [Islamic] Jihad, the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine - PFLP] so as to bring about chaos in their ranks, and to allow you to pounce on them easily.
Abu Mazen: In this way, we will inevitably fail. We won’t be able to get rid of them or confront them.
Sharon: So then, what’s your plan?
Dahlan: We told you our plan and informed you of it. And to the Americans [the plans were sent] in writing. We need firstly to have a period of quiet so we can wrest control over all the [Palestinian] security services and all the institutions [of the Palestinian Authority].
Sharon: As long as Arafat is around in the Moqata’ [the Palestinian Authority headquarters] in Ramallah, you will certainly fail. This fox [Arafat] will surprise you as he did in the past. Because he knows what you intend to do. And he will work towards your failure and put inevitable obstacles. He’ll proclaim, as the [Palestinian] street does, that you are being used to do the dirty work of the era.
Dahlan: We’ll see who uses the other.
Sharon: The first step needs to be to kill Arafat by poisoning. I don’t want him exiled, except if there are guarantees from the concerned states that he will be under house arrest. Otherwise Arafat will return to living on a plane [a reference to Arafat's frequent travels before his return to the OPT to drum up support for the Palestinian position internationally.]
Abu Mazen: If Arafat dies before we are able to have control on the ground and all the institutions, and over Fateh, and [Fateh's armed wing] the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades, then we will face great complications.
Sharon: On the contrary, you won’t control anything as long as Arafat is alive.
Abu Mazen: The plan needs to be where we pass everything through Arafat. This will be more successful for us and for you. During the period of clashing with Palestinian organizations and the assassination of its leadership and its member - these matters will bring with them consequences for Arafat himself. And he can’t say to the people that this is the work of Abu Mazen. But it is the work of the head of the PA. For I know Arafat well. He doesn’t accept to be on the margins. He needs to be the leader, even if he has lost all his options, and when he has no option but civil war. He prefers to be the leader.
Sharon: You used to say before Camp David that Arafat is the last to know and [then] Barak, Clinton and Tenet were surprised that he is the decider [i.e that Arafat feigned ignorance, but knew what was going on all along, engineering it as such.] Perhaps you do not learn from the past.
Dahlan: We have now gone about creating a [security] apparatus composed of the police and the Preventative Security [force (PS)- a wing of the PA security agencies created to prevent Palestinian attacks against Israel], numbering 1800 persons. This combination [is done] so that we are able to integrate those you nominated [to be included in the apparatus] on the basis that each party of the police and the PS, will believe that the members are from the other [security] apparatus. We can increase [personnel] where we want. We are now putting all the officers from all the agencies before difficult choices. We’ll squeeze them by all means so they follow us. And we will work to isolate all the officers who will be an obstacle for us. And we will not wait. We have started to work intensely. And we put the most dangerous figures from Hamas and the Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades beneath surveillance. So that if you were to now ask me the most dangerous five [of them], I would be able to tell you their location with precision. This facilitates your quick response for any activity that takes place against you. We are now working on penetrating the Palestinian organizations, forcefully, so in the coming period we will be able to dismember and liquidate them.
Sharon: You will find me supportive of you from the skies above for the targets that are difficult for you [a reference to Israel's aerial-borne assassinations.] But I fear that Arafat has penetrated you, and has leaked your plans to Hamas, the [Islamic] Jihad [party] and others.
Dahlan: This apparatus has no relation to Arafat - not from near, nor from far. With the exception that the followers of each apparatus get their wages from the Ministry of Finance. We were able to deduct for the apparatus a specific budget to be able to cover all the expenses. And Arafat is loosing control. We won’t let him be in this period.
Sharon: We need to make it easier for you to liquidate the leaders of Hamas by way of creating a problem from the get go, so we can kill all the military and political leaders. In so doing we will open the way for you to take control on the ground.
Abu Mazen: In this way we will fail entirely, and we will not be able to accomplish anything from the plan. Rather the situation will explode without control over it.
The American Delegation: We see Dahlan’s plan is good. And we need to give them a period of quiet so as to achieve full control. And you need to withdraw for them from some of the areas to allow the Palestinian police to take over security. And if any [military] operation takes place, you return and you reoccupy the area harshly. So the people feel that those [who undertook the military operation] are a disaster upon them, and that they are the ones who force the Israeli army to return from the areas from which they have departed.
Sharon: Abu Mazen himself used to advise us that we shouldn’t withdraw before liquidating the infrastructure of terror. He needn’t be rewarded.
Abu Mazen: Yes I advised you of that but you did not succeed in that until now. I thought that you would succeed with this fast.
Dahlan: The levers of success are in our hands. Arafat has begun to loose control over matters bit by bit. And we have begun to take control over institutions more than in the past in addition to the joint security force from the PS and the police. It is under Colonel Hamdi Al Rifi. You know him well. And we sent you all the documents concerning these matters, in detail. What’s important here is that this force does not submit to Arafat, and takes no orders from him. And we will begin our work in the north of the Gaza strip as a beginning. As for the Al Aqsa Brigades, soon it will be like an open book before us. We have put in place a plan so that they will have a singular leader, and all those who impede us will be liquidated.
Sharon: I agree to this plan. And so that it quickly succeeds, and doesn’t take a long time, there is a need to kill the most important political leaders who are next to the military leaders. Like [Abdel Aziz al] Rantisi [Hamas political leader, assassinated in April 17, 2004], and Abdallah Shami [political leader of the Islamic Jihad, Gaza, still living], [Mahmoud] Zahhar [current top leader of Hamas in Gaza], and [Ismail] Abu Shanab [Hamas leader Gaza, assassinated August 21, 2003] and [Ismail] Haniyeh [current head of Hamas, elected Prime Minister in Jan. 2006, Gaza], Majdalawi [head of the PFLP, Gaza, still living] Mohammed Al Hindi [political leader of Islamic Jihad, Gaza - still living], Nafez Azzam [Islamic Jihad leader, Gaza, still living.]
Abu Mazen: This will detonate the situation, and will make us loose control over the whole situation. We need to start to work for a ceasefire, so we can control the situation on the ground. This will be more successful for you and for us.
Dahlan: Without a doubt, there is need for your support of us in the field. I support the killing of Rantisi and Abdalla al Shami because those, if killed, will create confusion and a large vacuum in the ranks of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Because they are the operational leadership.
Sharon: Now you have begun to get it Dahlan.
Dahlan: But not now. It’s necessary for you to withdraw for us from large parts of Gaza so we can have the large excuse, before the people. And when Hamas and the Islamic Jihad violates the ceasefire, you can kill them.
Sharon: And if they don’t violate the ceasefire? Are you going to leave them to organize and prepare operations against us so that we will be surprised that this ceasefire worked against us…?
Dahlan: They can’t be patient during a ceasefire while their organizations are fragmenting. There upon, they will break the ceasefire. After that will be the chance to go after them. Then it’s your grace, Sharon.
The American Delegation: This is a reasonable and logical solution.
Sharon: I will not forget when you used to say to the [Israeli] Labor party and even to us that you are under control of everything, and the reality proved the opposite. Allow me to guide the way, my own special way.
Abu Mazen: The first condition in the Road Map stipulates that you undertake steps supportive of us in confronting terror. We see that the best support you can give us is to give us a part of the Gaza Strip so that we will be able exercise control over it. And we told you that we will not accept any authority other than the [Palestinian] Authority to be present on the land.
Sharon: We told you more than once that supportive steps means that we will support you in fighting terror…either by planes and tanks.
Abu Mazen: That will not be supportive of us.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

Messages In This Thread
New Details on the Alleged Plot to Kill Arafat - by Magda Hassan - 23-07-2009, 11:52 AM

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