|You are in: Talking Point|
Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 09:01 GMT
Middle East: Is Arafat still relevant?
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is not in "effective control" according to US Vice-president, Dick Cheney.
His comments came after a Palestinian bomb attack in Jerusalem - the third suicide bombing in a week, and the first one ever carried out by a woman.
Israel had already decided to break off all contact with Arafat, accusing him of doing too little to stop terrorism.
Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said: "Arafat is responsible since he encourages terrorists to commit suicide acts."
On Friday, Israeli F-16s bombed Palestinian security positions in retaliation for an earlier suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.
Palestinian officials are now vacating buildings in anticipation of an Israeli response to Sunday's attack.
Do you think Yasser Arafat should still be a leading player? Are the bombings further evidence that the peace process is finally dead? Is the Israeli government right to break off ties with the Palestinian leader?
This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
Arafat is obviously still relevant according to the people he governs. Do you see the Palestinians protesting against his house arrest outside his headquarters? I know there are questions about his ability to deal with political issues, but if the Palestinians, including some of the militant resistance groups, didn't want Arafat as their leader, he would have been gone a long time ago. The rest of the world, especially USA and Israel, has no rights to render him irrelevant.
I am convinced the phrase "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" was conceived with Chairman Arafat in mind. Where is the Palestinian Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, or Mahatma Gandhi? How does blowing up people in a pizza parlour or commuter bus advance the idea of Palestinian statehood? How can it be equated with the targeted killing of those who plan the terror bombings?
The Palestinian cause is a just one. The Israelis will have to remove the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza for there to ever be real peace.
Unfortunately, for the Palestinian people, their leadership has never been able to avoid enacting (or condoning)acts of terrorism which obscure (at least in the eyes of people here in the US) the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander?
Israel has a powerful army, Palestine is punished for importing arms! Israel selects Palestinians and goes in 'for the kill', Palestinian "suicide bombers" are stigmatised as "terrorists"!
Israel occupies stolen land and has no intention of giving it up. Palestinians are denied access to Israel!
The USA is too biased in favour of Israel (the Jewish and arms lobby) and therefore an unsuitable negotiator in the conflict - it has to get out.
The USA presence worsens this conflict and with that endangers the peace of the world.
Israel and the USA are doing everything to humiliate Arafat to make sure that the promised Palestinian State doesn't come about.
Arafat is held prisoner in his own house/land!
Who do they think they are to deny Arafat the right to travel to Belgium and by cutting off his means of governing?
Yasser Arafat is still the only person to talk to. Both USA & Israel are wrong to break off ties with him. USA is totally one sided, and will blindly support Israel thereby making her more arrogant.
I think that Sharon is using the suicide bombings as an excuse to invade Palestine and destroy things. How can he say that Yasser Arafat is not doing anything when he is locked in a building? How could he do anything?. I think it's not the Palestinians that are the terrorists in this. The Israelis think its alright for their tanks to be in Palestine but when Palestinians fight back all of the sudden they are seen by the world as terrorists
Time and again the Palestinians have turned down the two-state solution and chosen war over peace. Unfortunately, they have managed to lose time and again, and still have yet to see the error of their violent ways. Their actions have demonstrated that they are not interested in peace, so what else is there to say?
Anna Schlusser, Australia
The whole situation in the Middle East is going out of control. The Palestinians are convinced that they have no option but to fight with the weapons they have & hope to wear down the Israelis. It is almost out of Arafat's hands as the Palestinians are so enflamed that any real effort to arrest militants is probably doomed. Sharon is unrealistic to expect total calm & sooner or later must accept a sovereign Palestinian state. He will have to accept removing most of the settlers from the west bank as all countries see them as illegal occupiers. The Israelis are as much to blame as anyone & the US, by being Israel's best ally must also accept it's blame, most of the weapons the Israelis use are "made in the USA". Not that the militant loonies in Hamas etc aren't nasty. If they want to target Israel & fight back they should limit their attacks to military-industrial targets as the allies did in W.W.II An all-out Israeli attack would also stop the militants but would destroy any support for them even in the US.
I find it terribly ironic that the U.S. and Israel claim Arafat is no longer effective. How can Arafat be effective when his power is continuously undermined by the Israeli and U.S. governments who have literally tied his hands? Arafat has been imprisoned by Israeli forces for weeks. The U.S. media is so pathetically biased and influenced by ties to Israel that it is subtly brainwashing Americans into believing that Palestine is the aggressor and Israel the innocent. I am forced to seek ought foreign news sources in order to hear the truth. The boundaries should be drawn in accordance with those established in 1948. All Israeli forces should be withdrawn from Palestinian territories and the illegal Jewish settlements should be vacated and the land returned to the rightful owners, the Palestinians. The world cannot afford to stand by and allow this apartheid to continue.
I think although Arafat is by no means an angel, he has probably kept things calmer than they would otherwise have been. Lets face it, who takes over if he goes? Probably extremists. He did arrest some of the suspects Israel wanted detained, but Israel went ahead and invaded the West Bank anyway. They jumped on the bandwagon of the current climate, claiming terrorism, and we are doing what the Americans did. Yes, the suicide bombing etc is wrong, but more is made of this as it happens in nice shopping centres, rather than small children shot dead by soldiers for throwing a stone at a tank in a dusty dishevelled back street.
At the end of the day, Arafat at least wanted peace more than Sharon, who just wants to invade and steal more land.
Samer Sarhan, Palestine
Sharon is the irreleveant or ignominous party here. Arafat is paralized by the military onslaught, the asasinations, the imprisonment of the civilian population, all of which are due to the present head of government of the occupying forces. Removing Arafat is perhaps now an option for Sharon, but it will offer only two outcomes - continued war and ethnic cleansing.
Justice can stop the
violence. The UN, minus
Israel, all Islamic states
and the US, should play the
role of judge. It is
high time the UN and
Kofi Annan proved that
they are really worthy
of the Nobel peace
Harish: The Nobel Prize nowadays is a joke. Do not worry too much about it. The fact is that Arafat is not honest with his own people - he is playing dirty politics at the expense of innocent Palestinians.
Arafat is relevant for 40 years of terror and death of innocent people. He is very relevant and responsible for 40 years for Palestinian suffering. Arafat is extremely relevant for 40 year of despair, hopelessness, poverty, and destruction.
Is Arafat relevant for peace, stability, prosperity and reconciliation? - Not at all. Never was.
It seems to me that Chairman Arafat's refusal to accept the Clinton deal, which enshrined a two-state solution,
was a missed opportunity of historic import. Moreover, it appears to be part of a pattern of Mr. Arafat's leadership:
the failure to act decisively. Or, does his refusal to agree to the Clinton deal reveal the fundamental principle of Arafat's politics that Israel should not exist? Regardless of whatever Mr. Arafat has claimed, his actions belie his words. Since the Clinton deal failed,
both sides have suffered mindlessly.
Greg Keif, US
Mr Arafat, it seems to me, is the only leader that the Palestinians have that is recognised by all parties.
However, his past connections with terrorism are a hindrance. Israel has a long memory and does not forget past transgressions.
The only other possible leader for Palestinian aspirations for nationhood and peace is a woman, but can a male dominated society such as theirs accept such a leader?
Shouldn't the questions read not "is Arafat still relevant?" or "Is Arafat doing enough?"
but instead "Is it reasonable to expect Arafat to provide
security for a country which, for all its military might, cannot do so for
itself?" I am fed up seeing Arafat blamed for not providing something that
America and Israel cannot offer for itself - while at the same time letting
people die. Sharon promised security for his people - but things have rarely been this bad for Israel in the last 54 years. Palestinan Authority buildings are destroyed on a
regular basis but are still expected to perform. Does this not strike anyone
as contradictory? Maybe it's time to help chairman Arafat reach peace, not destroy him
then accuse him of being unable (or unwilling as some report) to provide.
Israel cannot pick and choose whom they negotiate with. When Sharon declares the legitimate leader of the Palestinians irrelevant, he also declares the hopes and aspirations of a people irrelevant. I assume he wants to rule the occupied territories directly, or with the help of local "pragmatic Palestinians" - quislings by any other name. And just how far will the US support his aims?
Simon O'Brien, UK
Arafat will cease to be relevant when the Palestinian people say he is. Not a moment sooner, not a moment later. Sharon's attempts to isolate and humiliate him have merely increased his relevance.
Sharon is quite simply not looking for negotiation with the Palestinian authority - that has never been his style. The suicide bomb atrocities committed recently have simply hardened his resolve. For the current crisis, he is the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time. The peace process really died with Yitzak Rabin, and until another leader of his courage comes along, a negotiated settlement is not on the cards. However, one thing that would help would be for the US to change its policy of blanket support for whatever action the Israeli government sees fit. There have been atrocities committed on both sides in recent years - America has to realise that Israel are no longer automatically the good guys.
Arafat makes statements of convenience, but never shows any inclination of really coming to a political settlement with Israel, or to putting every effort into urging the Palestinians to live in peace with Israel. He is not and was never relevant to a peace process!
Miki Tal, USA
I think if Arafat can't stop the attacks on innocents, what's the purpose of having Arafat around? He, and Palestine, and certain other non-state, non-terrorist actors, i.e. the Dalai Lama, should be given seats at the United Nations, and a political solution to their respective problems should be constructed.
Mr Arafat is irrelevant to the process if he cannot offer his own people anything. His call to stop bombings in Israel needs to be matched by Israel stopping the killing of Palestinians (including assassinations) and the halting of building in the occupied territories. So far Israel appears to want to escalate the situation in order to further undermine Mr Arafat's position.
Violence begets violence. Israel's excessive, brutal and disproportionate use of military force only serves to fuel further violence. I am saddened and distressed that the United Nations Security Council Resolution to establish an international monitoring team to protect the Palestinian people and halt the escalating violence was vetoed by the U.S.
I wonder what would happen if Arafat said, "I quit!"
All UN resolutions regarding the Middle East should be implemented immediately. Who should implement them? The USA.
Jack Roper, UK
Israel is trying to eliminate in more than one way the Nobel Peace Prize holding leader of a people it is oppressing. Arafat is by far a better negotiating partner than Hamas are. For how long will innocent Israelis have to pay for the unwise actions of their governments?
Israel's decision to break off ties with Arafat is the same response any country would give after 14 months of ongoing attacks, violence and terrorism.
Legitimate governments don't negotiate with terrorists. Would the US or the UK cut a deal with Osama Bin Laden?
At the moment both the PLA and Israel are demonstrating brinkmanship. At the end of the day Israel and the PLA will have to talk. It might take a war and international pressure though to make them. Israel will probably need to abandon the West Bank and Gaza in the process but at least the security they crave will be easier to implement where there are clear boundaries between Israel and a Palestinian state.
Ordinary people, journalists, politicians and leaders always seem to ask for solutions to the middle-east problem. I thought that the solution was already enshrined in the dust-covered manuscripts of the UN resolutions! Didn't these resolutions ordain the right of Israel to exist within its fixed boundaries? Didn't these resolutions also, in the same vein, stipulate an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories? As far as I can recall, the Palestinians dropped the destruction of Israel from their national charter. So, why cannot Israel reciprocate and do the honest needful? If we could evict Iraq out of Kuwait within 6 months, what is keeping us from doing the same to Israel?
Come now people, let's be fair. Till we, the world community at large, allow these callous inequalities to persist and continue with the double standards, there will never be an end to such rhetorical questions. Till then we can only, from the reprehensible comfort of our daily life, continue to miraculously expect the bloodshed to end.
What a tragedy ! It seems that the only way for peace would be that one side would back off, but neither Sharon nor Arafat will do that, because they will look weak. The solution would be new leaders on both sides, so that neither would feel that they lost face.
It is of utmost importance to get two leaders with commitment and vision for true peace, and the support of their own people. What kind of life is this - where the population on both sides have to live with daily fear of terrorism!
The honest truth is that neither side deserves to triumph in this conflict. Neither of them have proved themselves worthy - or capable - of establishing or maintaining a viable country where ordinary people can simply live, go about their business, and enjoy a normal, fulfilling life. I see no hope for that region. Neither side would know what to do with peace if they had it, and it's a shame that ordinary people have to be terrorized and slaughtered for the sake of an unwinnable war that may never end.
The only way to reach a solution is at the negotiating table. Israel must respect Palestinian territories and stop settlements. They must stop their terrorist attacks. Breaking ties will only serve to increase tension.
I think both Arafat and Sharon are to blame for the recent bloodshed, and the international community should put pressure on both of them not to take the region to an unknown future for the simple reason of trying to settle their old score
Ed Vista, UK
I think that Arafat is the most affordable Palestinian leader at the time. And when it comes to stopping violence, the Israeli forces should pay more respect in confiscating all war material in the area, creating stability through disarming, not killing. Killing of Palestinians tends to lead to more violence as it seems.
There is no difference between the occupation of Palestine and apartheid South Africa. The U.N should just stand up and apply international law against the brutal government of Ariel Sharon. The European Union should meet and apply both economic and political sanctions against this dictatorship. The U.S appear to owe the Israelis something that we do not know. Let us forget about them and go forward on the path of justice. The Palestinians have suffered enough, it is time for the world to act.
A negotiated peace in the Middle East is simply not possible at this time. Peace will only come with the destruction of the terrorists and the governments that support them.
Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE
There is no way to end this violence. As long as Palestinians send terrorists to murder innocent civilians, Israel will have to respond with force. What's the option? Should the Jews leave Israel? Get real. There is a difference between targeting terrorist leaders and targeting civilians. This is why my sympathy for the Palestinians is fading very fast. How can a group claim victimhood when they commit these atrocities so regularly?
Shawn from Washington says should the Jews leave Israel? No, of course they shouldn't - but the Israelis should leave Palestine and abide by all UN resolutions, not just those that suit them.
A viable solution would involve, from Israel's part, dismantling the settlements and taking steps towards implementing at least part of the UN resolutions as a necessary start. This has to be met by the Palestinians with a crackdown on militant groups that perform the horrible attacks on Israel. The Palestinians have to see a light at the end of the tunnel (a Palestinian state) whereas the Israelis have to feel secure about living side-by-side with the Palestinians. However, the realistic prospects of this happening are very slim. I have no hope for the Middle East problem.
28 Jan 02 | Middle East
Palestinian driver shot dead
27 Jan 02 | Middle East
In pictures: Jerusalem blast
27 Jan 02 | Middle East
Analysis: Mistrust deepens
28 Jan 02 | Middle East
Close call for 11 September survivor
23 Jan 02 | Middle East
US puts pressure on Arafat
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy