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Friday, 24 May, 2002, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Can Yasser Arafat reform the Palestinian Authority?
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has called for new elections and a reform of the Palestinian Authority.
He said that he was the one to blame for any errors of the Authority and admitted that a re-evaluation of its policies was needed.
But change will not come round soon - Yasser Arafat said he needed time to prepare reforms and new elections.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said there would be no peace talks with the Palestinians without fundamental reform of the Palestinian Authority.
Can Yasser Arafat reform the Palestinian Authority? Does he have the enough influence to press ahead with the modernisation?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
There is no question that reform needs to take place. I am not sure whether there is a country in the world complacent enough not to admit reform is in need. But one must ask for whom and why this reform will be undertaken.
Any demands made by Israel upon the Palestinian government are clearly not designed to build a strong Palestinian state capable of meeting the economic, social and security needs of its people. That would require it to build a military (not an internal police force like it has now)and to retake control of the West Bank's water supply for industry and household needs, which the Israeli government is using for its settlement population.
I doubt whether Sharon and the hawkish Likud party believe the Palestinians are entitled to such benefits of a nation-state.
All Israeli should be thankful to understanding of Yasser Arafat who is looking for realistic, fair and applicable peace. He is generous in his peace proposal.
Yasser Arafat is a civil engineer and is looking for applicable solution in peace. His approach, goals are different than those of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Hamish doesn't want to demolish Israel. But he is generous and recognizes this state and will never want to see it vanish. Sharon and Netanyahu should understand this.
One must not forget that
Arafat is the democratically
elected ruler of the Palestinian
people, in fact he is the only
democratically elected leader
in the whole of the Middle East!
Yet despite this the western
world is convinced that he
and his party need
(buzz words frequently bashed
over the Middle East).
There is no question regarding
Arafat's great popularity and
power over his people.
However, Sharon et al will make
us believe that this frail old
man must leave to make
way for an individual who
can control and represent the
people blah blah blah┐.Let me
guess - someone
like Hamid Karzai?
This renewed cry by
Sharon conveniently takes
the spot light away from
Likud's decision to oppose
the basis of any peace in the
region, the creation of a
No, I don't believe that Arafat has any more control over the actions of individual fanatics than Ali Baba would have over the 40 thieves. Furthermore, I think it is up to Israel to take the initiative for peace.
By the way, Israel should stop expanding the settlements
while Arafat is working on the reforms. There should be no free cake for Israeli right wingers to exploit the situation and grip more land for themselves while the US twists Arafat's arm to do reforms.
I would love to see reform of the Palestinian Authority, and new elections in particular - it being seven years since the last. Unfortunately because of Israel's stance toward the Palestinians if elections were held today Hamas and Islamic Jihad would romp home to victory. And then where would the peace process be? Well done Israel - you keep complaining about Arafat as you make a rod for your own back. How depressing.
There seems to be a growing number of radical Palestinian organisations that do not succumb to Arafat's influence. That is why the recent bombing campaign was allowed to continue in the first place. And that is what lead to the Israeli invasion of Palestinian territory. Arafat and Sharon are not the men to secure a permanent peace arrangement within the Middle East. What is needed now is for two politicians, one from each side, who both genuinely want peace and are aware of each others feelings, to get together and negotiate a first step.
Sure, Arafat can reform the PA. The question is whether or not he will and if so how. Consider the facts; Arafat has ruled that organization autocratically since its inception in 1964. Why would he just all of a sudden opt for democracy now? Also, Arafat's track record is not exactly sterling when it comes to the truth and honesty department. Why should the world believe him, or for that matter his own people? If you believe that a dictator like Arafat is just going to allow real democracy in his realm then I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.
Yasser Arafat can not reform the Palestinian Authority because it is his baby now grown up and gone out of his control. Despite his best intentions and efforts, a sizable chunk of his people went astray, out of order and bewildered. Yasser is clinging to his post simply on account of international recognition mostly by third world countries and the EU. Otherwise he has lost the edge or influence once he enjoyed as the only leader of Palestinians. Like all human beings he also made some costly mistakes and now, in my opinion, he is too weak to push ahead any form of modernization within his authority (which has no substitute for him at this moment).
Elias N. Nader, USA
Why are we even asking the question? Arafat has always claimed that the terrorism comes from independent groups, not from the Palestinian Authority, so what does it matter how he reforms the PA if he does not rein in these allegedly independent groups. I suspect that we'll just declare that he had "reformed" the PA, and then the EU will go on cynically and covertly financing anti-Israel terrorism.
Reform is needed but a free and democratic society amongst Palestinians is not what Israel or USA wants. They want someone to serve their interests not the Palestinians people's. It's all a big show!
What incentives are there for Arafat to reform the PA? He has worked very hard to get where he is at. Is he going to reform the PA to please the Israelis? Sharon? The USA? Why would he want to please Sharon and the USA when he has not been getting any support from them? If anything, the two have been trying to destroy him. If President Bush and the US foreign policies give Arafat some support, he will reform the PA. When President Bush is openly showing his bias against Arafat, it makes the world wonder if his peace ideas are just for Israel's advantage.
I will hope Arafat reforms the PA and show the world that Israel, specifically Sharon, is not interested in peace.
Arafat had 9 years to establish a viable Palestinian Authority. He didn't do it for 9 years, why will he do it now? - He still avoids, even now, steps to outlaw of the terror organizations.
The only thing Arafat does is buying time.
Sure he can reform and rebuild the PA, but I doubt it'll be more than 3 months before Sharon sends in the Apaches.
I believe Arafat can and will reform the Palestinian Authority very soon, there's no doubt about it. But, my question to you and to the rest of the world, if he does so, is Sharon willing to make peace with him? Is Sharon willing to give the Palestinians a State? A home like every one else? Is Sharon really, like every one claims, a man of peace? i don't think so. Even if Arafat reforms the Palestinian Authority, Sharon will come up with another lame excuse like he's always done, so he doesn't give the Palestinians a home.
Mr. Arafat has the authority given him by those who have placed and kept him in power. The question is: are his supporters interested in an equitable peace, or is Mr. Arafat just doing his 'politician' thing?
Perhaps he can, if Israel will let him. Let's face it, they haven't actually helped recently by destroying the whole infrastructure. But perhaps some good can come of this, maybe the Palestinians will attempt to build a more mature Authority with the remit to govern their own state. It will be terribly disheartening to them however, if rebuilding does not result in the ability to actually govern a proper state with recognised boundaries. Only Israel (through the USA?) can make this happen.
Arafat should retire! He's a liability to his people! A Moslem friend of mine totally agrees with this!
Reform is a matter of urgency, but I don't think Yasser Arafat's views matter anymore. His recent walkabout has proven just how much his popularity has diminished among his own people, and I am sure that in a new election he would be ousted from power. Both he and his cronies have made themselves rich off the backs of his starving people.
The Palestinians need a statesman in order to get a state. Can Arafat now become one, after all these years of being anything but?
He holds most of the ministries in the Palestinian Authority, he has the support of his people, he has army of 40000, no doubt he can make reforms, but he already started the process of burying it in a committee. Reforms alone are not enough, end to terror and to organizations like Hamas and Al-Aqsa and only then there will be a chance for a peace.
Arafat needs to go if a fundamental reform to be done.
His regime also needs to go and all fanatic teaching to cease.
Arafat is an icon, not a political leader. He is still a highly influential figure in Palestine and still able to move the Palestinians population. But it takes logical thinking, political skills, and authority to reform a government. And I'm not sure if he has what it takes to reform PA. He is probably better served as a symbolic leader of the movement and leave the running of the PA to someone more capable.
Laine Dowen, UK
He must succeed .If he can't do it let him delegate it to an aid agency who can so the aid goes to the people who need it. The Palestinian people desperately need a state.
The best think Arafat can do is resign.
I can't really think of any other credible leader for the Palestinian people at present. Arafat will need to prove he can be a credible leader though and not just someone who goes glad-handing world leaders. Both Israeli and Palestinians must learn toleration and respect. Palestinian people also need self-respect. This can only come from having their own homeland and not being a refugee in the land where they have lived for centuries.
I honestly don't think he can or will. Instead, he should resign.
Mark Dowe, Scotland, UK
Unless the US and the world at large can oblige Israel to accept the creation of a Palestinian state (and a fair resolution to the right of return question) conditional on a reform of the Palestinian Authority and on security for Israel, he has no chance. Why would the Palestinian people agree to any reform, or to stopping their violent responses to occupation if there is no hope at the end of the tunnel?
I think he can, but can do so only with the support of Israel. Sharon must clearly declare that he supports a viable and independent Palestinian State alongside Israel and stop the ruthless massacre of Palestinians. Only when Sharon can do so will Arafat be able to reform and prevent attacks on Israel.
Elissa B., USA
He can, but he will not. Arafat has always but two faces on, one for the west and one for the Arabs. I don't see any difference now.
PA Reform is their own problem. Sharon must reform his own party. He has to exile Netanyahu (the most dangerous right winger)
Whether he is committed to reform Palestinian authority or not is not the main issue. Is Arafat so influential to implement his plans? It does not seem so. And moreover, the damage done by Israel in recent months have left the authority without any option than to overhaul it. But the radicals are gaining strength and Israel by its ruthless activities is provoking them. Any efforts towards peace must accompany overhauling of Palestinian authority and implementation of confidence building measures among the Israelis and Palestinians and restraint of power by Israelis. How successful he would be depends on how supportive Israel and US will remain in the future.
Paul M, USA
Mr Arafat can reform
the Palestinian Authority but
what will it gain him if he
cannot reign in the militants
currently operating out of the
Democracy is a fine ideal, but
assuming that he is carrying out
these reforms as a gesture
to appease the Israelis and in
the hope that Sharon will then
consider discussing Palestinian
independence, he is very probably
wasting his time.
I don't know whether he has the charisma or not to do it. But one thing I do know is that if he doesn't reform soon he's in real trouble.
Its quite interesting looking at the website of their "Palestinian Legislative Council" which hasn't passed a law since 1998....
I hate to think how many laws the UK has passed in all that time.
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