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Yasser Arafat has made his calculations and decided not to call Egypt's bluff but Israel's instead, agreeing to Egyptian demands that he reform the structure of Palestinian security forces throughout the occupied territories. Arafat decided not to buck his Arab neighbor and guarantor any longer, shifting the onus to the Sharon government to fully evacuate Gaza:
Yasser Arafat told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak he accepted his demand for Palestinian security reforms as a condition for Egypt to help stabilize Gaza if Israelis withdraw, officials said Monday.
The Palestinian president was responding by letter to Egypt's mid-June deadline to agree to security overhauls or risk losing Cairo's offer to promote order in Gaza after a pullout, which the Israeli cabinet approved in principle Sunday.
"Arafat has accepted the Egyptian ideas and is now awaiting the Israeli response. This will help the Egyptians take steps to retrain our police force and send their security experts to the Palestinian areas," a senior Palestinian official told Reuters.
By making his agreement contingent on the full Israeli withdrawal, Arafat shifts the pressure off of himself and onto Sharon. Sharon, who tried to get his Likud party to back just that solution, has run into formidable obstacles in his governing coalition, even though polling shows the plan to be popular with Israeli citizens. In fact, Arafat gambled that Sharon simply cannot deliver a full withdrawal, giving him the excuse necessary to retain his grip on power.
One thing is absolutely clear: Arafat will not relinquish power, neither nominal nor practical, unless under duress from his benefactors, and even then he intends on playing the string out as long as possible. Egypt's ultimatum worked to pin Arafat down to a clear decision, which was rather unusually helpful for Egypt in recent days. However, unless Sharon can push through the full withdrawal he originally wanted -- and recent news shows that Likud won't accept anything except a watered-down version, preferring to stay in Gaza until final negotiations -- nothing much will have changed, except that dialogue has been reopened. Perhaps that will spark more fruitful negotiations in the near future, but until the PA does something about terrorists within and without its own structure, it's unlikely. It's more likely that nothing much will have changed.Sphere It View blog reactions
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..... I have a transpacific bridge to sell you.Yasser Arafat told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak he accepted his demand for Palestinian security reforms as a condition for Egypt to help stabilize Gaza if Israelis withdraw, officials said Monday.Yea r... [Read More]
Tracked on June 7, 2004 6:35 PM
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