On November 13, , Arafat made an unprecedented appearance before the UN, wearing his military uniform with an empty holster [he was forced to remove his pistol before entering the chamber] around his waist,. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. This also enhanced the PLO's standing as a political movement. While Arafat adopted an increasingly high profile diplomatic pose, the PLO continued to employ terror against Israel , primarily from its new base in southern Lebanon.
The PLO helped destabilize Lebanon and contributed to the civil war, during which Arafat and the PLO were responsible for the persecution and murder of thousands of Lebanese citizens.
Palestinian fighters also mounted intermittent cross-border attacks against Israel , which provoked repeated Israeli counterattacks in an effort to prevent the Palestinians from threatening Israelis in the north. Finally, in June , Israel mounted a full-scale assault that escalated into the Lebanon War. In September, the United States brokered a cease-fire deal in which Arafat and his leadership were sent to Tunisia , which became his base of operations for the next decade.
Although a tiny minority at the time advocated negotiations with the PLO , the vast majority of Israelis believed that they could not negotiate with terrorists committed to their destruction. Israeli officials held out hope that a group of moderate Palestinian leaders would emerge in the West Bank and Gaza who would be willing to reach an agreement. The problem was that no such leadership could emerge because of the influence of the PLO. Even though the PLO itself remained fractured, Arafat was considered by virtually everyone but the Israelis and Americans to be the spokesmen for the Palestinians inside and outside the territories.
Most countries understood this and were willing to work with Arafat , and the Europeans, especially, pressured Israel to accept him as a negotiating partner. For his part, Arafat refused to express any willingness to abandon the goal of destroying Israel or using terror to accomplish his objective. This made it impossible for any mainstream Israeli politician to advocate talks with Arafat though many leftists met with him and other PLO officials.
During the s, Arafat became a globe-trotter, jet-setting from capital to capital to build diplomatic support for the Palestinian cause. Arafat received assistance from Iraq , which allowed him to reconstruct the badly-battered PLO. Arafat also continued to orchestrate international terror activities.
One of the most heinous was the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship on October 7, , during which Palestinian terrorists shot a wheelchair-bound Jewish passenger named Leon Klinghoffer and dumped his body overboard. As he had in , however, Arafat shifted tactics again, this time in response to prodding from the United States.
Arafat's War by Efraim Karsh (ebook)
This statement satisfied the conditions for opening a dialogue between the PLO and the United States. Up to this point, the United. However, on April 2, , Arafat was elected by the Central Council of the Palestine National Council the governing body of the PLO to be the president of the proclaimed State of Palestine, an entity which laid claim to the whole of Palestine as defined by the British Mandate.
This was the final straw for the Bush Administration, which suspended its dialogue with the PLO and refocused its attention on efforts to persuade Palestinians in the territories to talk directly with the Israelis. It was toward this end that U. Secretary of State James Baker shuttled to the Middle East in and won agreement from Israel and her neighbors to attend a regional peace conference.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir had labored to keep the PLO out of the negotiations, but he ultimately bowed to the reality that the Palestinians in the territories were not strong enough to make decisions and that they were forced to take directions from Tunis. No agreements came out of the Madrid talks and elections brought new leaders to power in Israel and the United States.
Shortly thereafter, Israelis and PLO officials began secretly negotiating in Oslo and ultimately reached an agreement to give the Palestinians self-rule in Gaza and Jericho to be followed by autonomy in other parts of the territories. The end of the Cold War eliminated a major source of financial and political support for the Palestinian cause. In addition, Arafat came under increasing criticism for mismanagement and corruption.
The intifada also had proved a failure. By , the fiery intifada was little more than an ember that no longer attracted media attention or concerned Israeli decision- makers. While George Bush was seen as the most sympathetic president the Palestinians had ever dealt with, Bill Clinton was viewed as clearly pro-Israel. This meant that the Palestinians would have to wait at least four years and hope another Bush would come along, but they realized this was unlikely.
Though he was to serve for only three years, no other presidential elections have ever been held. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak then decided that rather than further draw out the negotiating process with the Palestinians, he would go directly to the end game and try to achieve a peace agreement. President Clinton agreed with this idea and called for a summit meeting with Arafat and Barak at Camp David on July , , with the goal of hammering out the end to the conflict. In that case, however, Carter had two willing partners. Anwar Sadat had already demonstrated to Israel that he was prepared to make peace and, when he accepted the compromises offered at Camp David, Menachem Begin agreed to give up the Sinai.
Clinton found a different situation; Arafat had done little in the seven years since Oslo to convince Israelis he had given up his dream of destroying Israel. Nevertheless, Barak came prepared to offer the Palestinians independence and offered a series of formulations to resolve the major issues. Arafat not only rejected all of the American and Israeli ideas, he refused to offer any of his own. The only concessions Arafat had to make were to acknowledge Israeli sovereignty over the parts of the Western Wall religiously significant to Jews that is, not the entire Temple Mount , and to agree to three early warning stations in the Jordan Valley, which Israel would withdraw from after six years.
The Palestinian negotiators wanted to accept the deal, but Arafat rejected it. According to the principal U. Arafat , whose life has been governed by that conflict, Ross said, simply could not end it. A series of horrific terror attacks were carried out over the next several weeks — including two gunmen opening fire on a bus stop, which killed two and wounded injured dozens more; suicide bombings in a pedestrian mall in Jerusalem and two others in Haifa ; and a bomb and gunfire attack on a bus.
Sharon said that Arafat would remain isolated until the killers of Ze'evi were arrested and extradited to Israel. Arafat refused and appealed to the international community to pressure Israel to end its siege. The level of violence continued to escalate while Arafat ignored repeated warnings from the Bush Administration to take steps to prevent attacks against Israelis.
By mid, President Bush was convinced that Arafat was deeply involved in directing terror, and concluded that the only hope for achieving progress in the peace process was for the Palestinians to find a new leader. Not only the Americans had soured on Arafat.
Palestinian youths became increasingly disillusioned by what they perceived as the plodding dictatorial and corrupt nature of the PLO , and Arafat 's failure to deliver on his promise to liberate Palestine. Under pressure from the United States, Arafat did periodically take steps against the violence, condemning attacks and arresting low-level terrorists. The problem was that his condemnations were typically in English and couched in equivocations that accused Israel of terrorism as well. In Arabic, he would call for a jihad against Israel and a million martyrs to liberate Jerusalem.
The men he arrested were also released after a few weeks or months, and many subsequently committed acts of terror. In either case, they said it made no sense to negotiate with him since the result was the same — violence. Israel kept Arafat isolated in his Ramallah headquarters for the next two years. During that time, Arafat continued to rule the PA, and to receive a steady stream of foreign visitors, but he lost his position on the world stage and was rarely seen or heard from. In response, Arafat reshuffled his cabinet and promised to hold new elections.
On June 24, , Bush laid out a plan that called on the Palestinians to replace Arafat as their leader, reform the governmental institutions of the Palestinian Authority , end terrorism , and adopt democratic and free-market principles. The President agreed with the Israeli view that Arafat had to be replaced, and that terrorism had to end, before they were required to act. The Palestinians were angry and felt betrayed. They did not believe the United States had the right to tell them who their leader should be, and continued to insist that Israel had to withdraw from all the territories before they would end their violent struggle.
Desperate to hold onto power, Arafat offered a reform plan and a timetable for new elections. Arafat saw things just the reverse and maintained authority over all the main levers of power, in particular the security services. In addition to being a symbol of the Palestinian national movement, Arafat also derived much of his influence by controlling a vast financial empire first established by the PLO through its criminal activities and later augmented by hundreds of millions of dollars siphoned from donations by the international community to the Palestinian Authority.
Rather than use these resources to live the kind of luxurious lifestyle typified by other Arab despots, Arafat has used his money primarily to buy loyalty. And none of these dealings were made public. At the time, Arafat was 62 and Suha Suha's mother, a Palestinian activist and writer, introduced Arafat to her daughter, who was then studying at the Sorbonne. Arafat subsequently hired Suha to work on his personal staff in Tunis. After the start of the second uprising , Suha moved to live with her mother and daughter in Paris.
Arafat survived several assassination attempts over the years, as well as a plane crash in a sandstorm in the Libyan desert on April 7, For the last several years of his life he was in failing health and rumored to have Parkinson's Disease.
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His conditioned worsened in October Israel agreed to allow him to be transferred to a hospital in Paris on October 29 where his wife stayed by his side. He died November 11, , at age Karsh, head of Mediterranean studies at King's College, University of London, has a stronger point of view than the Rubins see review below , and covers recent events in greater detail. View Full Version of PW.
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