Nicholas Chatfort is exasperated by Israel’s latest appallingly timed stunt regarding Arafat
It has often been said of the Palestinians that they never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. It appears that the Israelis have picked up this same bad habit. According to a report in Ha’aretz, the Isreali Defence Force’s (IDF) recent assault on Arafat’s compound in Ramallah prevented the convening of a special meeting of the Fatah Central Committee scheduled for Saturday to pressure Arafat to accept the appointment of a prime minister. Arafat has been resisting the appointment of a prime minister as this would diminish his own power, possibly leading to turning him into a figurehead leader.
While the Israeli desire to retaliate for the recent suicide bombings is understandable, the heavy-handed action may unfortunately have the opposite effect to that which the Israelis apparently intended. Instead of weakening Arafat, it is likely that the demolition of Arafat’s compound will now abort, or at least seriously delay, moves by the Palestinians to pull power away from Arafat as they once again rally around him.
Although Ha’aretz reports that Palestinian requests for committee members to travel to Ramallah for the meeting were known to senior Israeli political and military officials, Israeli cabinet ministers who approved the IDF operation claim that they had not been told of the meeting. If this is true, it appears that senior Israeli officials were negligent in their duty to provide the cabinet with all of the information that they needed to make their decisions.