Chapter VI: The Al-Aqsa intifada
The Struggle for Reform

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The 28th ofSeptember 2000 witnessed a turning point in the history of the Oslo peace process and in Palestinian-Israeli relations. It was on this day that Ariel Sharon, then the Israeli opposition leader, visited Al-Haram Al Sharif (Temple) in East Jerusalem, a step considered by many Palestinians and by the international community as a highly provocative one. The visit sparked what become to be known as the Al-Aqsa Intfiada (Al-Aqsa being a mosque at Al-Haram Al-Sharif). The Al-Aqsa intifada started with clashes between some Palestinians praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and hundreds of Israeli soldiers who had accompanied Sharon during his visit to Al-Haram. Some of the Palestinians fell victim to lethal force, which ignited the clashes to extend to most Palestinian cities, villages and camps.

In the early stages of these clashes, the Israeli occupying forces used heavy and medium calibre machine guns against Palestinians. After less than a month (on 12 October 2000), these forces started deploying - for the first time since the occupation of WBGS in 1967 – the weapon of helicopter gunship, naval gunboats and tanks to shell and to carry out large scale ground incursions into cities, towns and refugee camps.

The shelling of and incursion into Palestinian cities and towns were paralleled with a policy of collective punishment, including the installation of military checkpoints and roadblocks between the cities, towns, villages and camps of WBGS, to curtail the movement of Palestinians between them. Without exception, all Palestinians were affected by this measure: the general public, PLC members, PA senior & junior officials, university and school students, merchants, businessmen, and in some cases, PA ministers and heads of PA security forces.

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The checkpoint and roadblock system tightened the noose around Palestinians who, due to the closure imposed on WBGS since 1991, had been denied access to Jerusalem (including East Jerusalem) and Israeli territory, and forbidden to move between the West Bank and Gaza Strip without a permit. With the random closure of the Rafah International Terminal (the only outlet for Gazans to the outside world), and Al Karamah International Terminal (the only outlet for West Bankers), some 3.2 million Palestinians -the estimated population of WBGS in 2000736 - were besieged in their cities, towns and villages.

The Israeli measures did not only target Palestinians, but also their property. In a report prepared by the Social and Economic Committee of West Asia and submitted to the UN Social and Economic Council, in its 59th session convened in New York on 23 June 2004, nearly 1,370 houses were destroyed or damaged by the Israeli occupation in the period of 2002-03. In addition, at least US$370 million were the estimated losses of the Palestinian economy in the period between September 2002 and April 2003. Of this were US$217 million losses to the agriculture sector, resulting from the Israeli measure of razing large stretches of Palestinian agricultural land. The remaining losses resulted from the Israeli measures of checkpoints and closure, the dismissal of thousands of Palestinian employees from Israeli labour markets, and the Israeli decision to freeze the transfer, to the PA, of the taxes collected from the Palestinian labours on behalf of the PA. All of this increased the unemployment rate of the WBGS to 63% by 2004.737

The economic losses of Palestinians paralleled their losses in human life: 2,726 Palestinians died in the period between September 2000 and December 2003. Around 20.2% of these Palestinians were killed by direct ammunition fired at the head and neck, 13.8% at the chest and 38.9% at the upper parts of the body. Most of these Palestinians were killed by live bullets (67%), by shrapnel (6.5%) and in explosions (13.7%).738 The majority of those killed in explosions (bombs fired by helicopters or tanks) were allegedly wanted by Israeli occupying forces. In this sense, they were assassinated. The assassination policy, formally pursued by Israel against Palestinian activists since the 1970s,739 was the instrument invoked by Israel to combat intifada activists, including members/leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the newly emerged military organization affiliated to Fatah. At least 349 Palestinians were assassinated in the period of December 2002-December 2003. Among them were 137 civilians (out of whom were 35 children and 25 women) by-standards. While some 3,000 Palestinians were killed from the outbreak of the intifada up to December 2003, no more than 950 Israelis were killed during the same period.740 In the meantime, only 6,000 Israelis had been injured since the outbreak of the intifada as compared to some 24,000 Palestinians.741

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These figures show clearly how Palestinians were no match for Israel, and accordingly, how they would suffer dearly if the intifada lasted. However, the longer the intifada lasted the more Israel was going to lose, especially insofar as its status in the international community was concerned. As a result of Israel’s excessive and lethal use of force against Palestinians, the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner (UNHRC) adopted a resolution condemning Israel for the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force, and accused it of war crimes on 19 October 2000.742 A month later, the UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson strongly condemned Israel for its determination to use lethal and excessive force against Palestinians, and blamed it for the continuous suffering of Palestinian civilians.743

The growing international criticism of Israel's excessive and lethal use of force against Palestinians, such as the broadcasting of Israeli soldiers killing 12-year-old Mohammad Al Durra in his father’s lap on 30 September 2000, which influenced Israel's international image, prompted Israel to consider the media as another weapon with which to fight Palestinians. The Labour-led Israeli government under Ihud Barak began a media campaign seeking to de-legitimatize the internationally recognized right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The campaign blurred the distinction between Israeli measures against civilians/children and its war against a standing army.

The campaign operated on two levels: the first was at the family level. In this regard, the Barak-led government blamed Palestinian parents for encouraging their children to fight an ‘adult war’. On this level, the Barak government, benefiting from its advanced and developed media system, achieved considerable victory. Palestinians suddenly had to defend the love of their children and to prove to the international community that Israel was the one responsible for the suffering of their children, not the other way around.

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The second level of the campaign focused on Palestinian military organizations, mainly the tanzim. Tanzim is the Arabic word for organization. It is commonly used by people to refer to Arafat’s party, Fatah. The Barak government accused tanzim members of shooting at Israelis and consequently blamed their leader, Arafat, for the unrest in the region. Interestingly, while some of the estimated hundreds of young people shooting at Israelis belonged to the tanzim, the majority had no connection to the tanzim, nor did they claim to.744

In this sense, the tanzim did not constitute an organized or self-standing military formation. Some of the young people shooting at Israelis may belong to Hamas, others to Islamic Jihad, and others to PFLP or DFLP, or they may not belong to any faction. Some of these young Palestinians bore the brunt of the occupation and suffered its consequences, including the fatal shooting of their relatives and the destruction of their houses. Others were themselves subjected to humiliating measures, such as ill-treatment and torture under detention, and the confiscation of their land for settlement purposes.

Far from this, these Palestinians were told of the justice and fairness of their cause by the UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions 242, 338, 194, 3236 and others.745 These resolutions confirm the right to an independent Palestinian state on the land occupied in the 1967 War (WBGS including East Jerusalem), to self-determination, and to return for refugees. Therefore, these Palestinians were empowered with the weapon of justice and fairness to fight the occupation and to convince the international community.

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However, their lack of an advanced media strategy, together with little awareness of the security implications of the intifada’s militarization, enabled Israel to commit grave breaches of the laws and customs of war against Palestinians under the pretext of the security threat of Palestinian military factions, whilst simultaneously blaming them (the Palestinian military organizations) for these war crimes. In so doing, Israel’s argument was supported by the suicide bombings committed mainly by Hamas and Islamic Jihad against Israeli civilians.

These bombings, strategically causing more harm than benefit to the Palestinian cause, empowered Israel with reasons for its intensive military actions against Palestinians. Consequently, Israel was able to recruit international support for its alleged battle to maintain Israeli security. While Israel was recruiting human and financial resources to gain further international support for its claimed battle, Palestinians did very little to offset the effect which Hamas' and Islamic Jihad’s bombings had on the international community’s image of Palestinians, or on the Israeli media campaign.

Israel maintained its determination to achieve a sweeping victory on the media front. During this time, Israel was not only backed by a strong and advanced media strategy, but also by some international developments, mainly the events of September 11th in 2001. These events took place less than a year after the rise to office of the Likud party under Ariel Sharon. They brought about fundamental changes in the international mood and put the issue of combating terror at the top of the American agenda. Within this context, Islam was perceived as being inherently associated with terrorism and most branches of the Islamic movement were labeled as terrorists.

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Taking advantage of the anti-terrorist international mood and of the continuing attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad against Israeli civilians, the Likud-led Israeli government encountered little difficulty in blurring the distinction between the Palestinian resistance against the occupation, which is legitimate under international law, and the terror outlawed by international norms. Paradoxically, the right-wing Israeli government was doing so with the blind support of one of the most democratic and liberal states - the USA - led by a right-wing Republican administration with George Bush at the helm. The lot of the besieged and humiliated Palestinians, therefore, was to endure Israeli war crimes backed by the Americans and tolerated by the Europeans and the Arabs, all the while being blamed for these crimes.

The Reform: Between a Palestinian Vision and an American-Israeli One

The blind support of the American administration for the Likud-government, and its failure to restrain this government’s lethal actions against Palestinians, coupled with European and Arab acquiescence, were key factors which encouraged Sharon to launch one of the most full-scale military campaigns against Palestinians in March 2002. In this campaign, Israeli forces reoccupied most of the West Bank cities (Ramallah, Beit Jala, Bethlehem, Jenin, Qalqilya, Tulkarm, Nablus, and Silfeet) in addition to other towns and villages. The declared goal of the campaign, which marked the death of the Oslo process, was to destroy the infrastructure of terror and to arrest all those accused of facilitating suicide bombers' operations.

The slogan, therefore, was the fight against terror and against its supporters, including the democratically-elected PA president, Arafat. From the Likud government’s point of view, Arafat was no longer a peace partner because he stepped aside and allowed his people to express themselves freely. Since he did so, the Likud government argued, Arafat became the patron of incitement and terror against Israel and therefore was to be excluded from any peace negotiations.

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Needless to say, neither Arafat, nor any other political leader, can control his people’s anger and their strong desire to revolt against their humiliating conditions when they decide to do so. The Al-Aqsa intifada was in fact a protest against the humiliating conditions and the balance of power inherent in the Oslo process. Due to this logic, principles like international legality and justice were marginalized, and consequently, Palestinians were left to the mercy of the Israeli interpretation of this process. This interpretation implied the legitimisation of Israel’s control over the West Bank and Gaza Strip by besieging the Palestinian populated centres by Jewish settlements whilst simultaneously building by-pass roads to prevent any horizontal expansion of these centres.

According to the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem), the number of settlement housing units in WBGS had steadily increased since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 to reach 31,400 by 2000. The increase in the number of housing units was accompanied with an increase in the number of settlers from 100,500 in 1993 to 191,600 in 2000 (a growth rate of 90%). This excludes the settlements of East Jerusalem where the number of settlers is estimated at 176,900 in 2000 as against 146,800 in 1993.746 These Jewish settlers, according to the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), are distributed in no less than 130 settlements in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip, and 11 settlements in East Jerusalem.747

It is this backdrop against which the intifada must be examined. The fact is that the Oslo process failed: to halt settlement activities, to stop humiliating measures against Palestinians (like closure, detention, torture and fatal shootings), alongside its failure to bring about the promised economic prosperity. This led to an accumulation of anger and frustration among Palestinian civilians. When Arafat decided to step aside and allow his people to release their anger in protest against these conditions, Israel turned against him and treated him as the patron of terror.

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Under this pretext, the Sharon-led government besieged Arafat in his compound (Al-Muqatah) in Ramallah during its military campaign of March 2002. The siege, which lasted until Arafat’s departure on 11 November 2004, sought to physically isolate the man, to disconnect him from the external world and, therefore, to prevent Palestinians from achieving any gain in the diplomatic arena - the only arena that can provide them significant progress. In addition, the siege sought to influence Arafat’s image in the eyes of his people and therefore to weaken Arafat’s capacity to make authoritative decisions and to lead his people.748 As Sharon pointed out, “the Israeli government has a standing decision to remove Arafat from any position of influence.”749

While the Sharon government took the responsibility of removing Arafat from “any position of influence,” the Bush administration began a diplomatic campaign aimed at convincing the international community that Arafat was the source of Palestinians’ problems. After less than three months of Sharon’s siege of Arafat, Bush gave a speech at the White House (on 24 June 2002), clarifying his administration’s vision of the Middle East peace process. In this regard, he declared that “peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born. I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders.”750 The new leadership must build viable political institutions, and "build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian People actively pursue these goals, America and the whole world will actively support their efforts.”751

Thus, the message for Palestinians was clear: political progress was conditioned on the new security environment and on institutional reform, and, consequently, a regime change was essential. If Palestinians were to have their own state they must engage in new security arrangements to fight “terror”, reforming their political institutions based on principles of transparency, of accountability, of demarcation of power, and of promoting a pluralist civil society and free market economy. This was not going to happen, in Bush’s point of view, if the current leadership had not been changed. Arafat, therefore, was the one who, in the US administration’s point of view, blocked the road towards a Palestinian state, since he blocked democratic transformation in WBGS. Hence, the US policy of fighting Arafat became the key, in their eyes, to carrying out reform. This policy complemented the slogan of “patron of terror” adopted by Israel to describe Arafat during the Al-Aqsa intifada.

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Ironically, the patron of terror and the blocker of democratic transformation (Arafat as viewed by Israel and the US administration) was the same person who cooperated with Israel and the US to fight “terrorism” and any form of resistance against the occupation during the interim period. He was also the same person who launched dozens of arrest campaigns against members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their supporters for the sake of Israel’s security (See chapter III).

As well, he was the person who limited basic freedoms such as the freedom of expression, and who arrested civil society activists and tried them before the State Security Court founded in 1995 (See chapter III), with Israeli and American support as provided by the Wye-River memorandum signed in 1998 (for this momorandum see chapter III). Furthermore, Arafat was the one who undermined the role of the PLC, and who tolerated and sometimes even promoted corruption and misuse of power (as was shown in in chapter III, chapter IV, and chapter V) under America's and Israel’s watch.

Was the reform not a necessity for Palestinians? Certainly, it was. But the reform desired by Palestinians is fundamentally different from that desired by the US and Israel. From the very beginning, Palestinians and their representative institutions were concerned with reform. On more than occasion, as we have seen in chapter IV, the PLC expressed its concerns over Arafat’s semi-autocratic rule and demanded new political arrangements based on the principles of transparency and accountability.

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On more than one occasion, the PLC, backed by civil society, also stood against the PA’s illegal arrests of opposition members and supporters (see chapter III, and chapter IV), and demanded the release of all political prisoners. As well, the PLC, joined by some PA institutions (like the GMC, as we have seen in chapter IV), stood against corruption and called on Arafat to try all those accused of misusing their office and power. Even during the intifada and Palestinians’ preoccupation with Israeli measures against them, the issue of reform gained a great deal of attention from Palestinians, manifested in the PLC document on reform published on 16 May 2002.

The document, including comprehensive institutional arrangements, aimed at structural adjustments in the financial, security, judicial and administrative sectors. The overall goal of these measures was to produce a functioning political system, based on the principles of separation of powers, transparency, accountability and the rule of law. Among these measures were:

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PLC concerns with reform were similar to those of the cabinet, as manifested in the “100 Days Plan of the Palestinian Government” concluded by the “ministerial committee for reform and development” formed by Arafat in the same year. The plan, approved by Arafat a day before the invasion of West Bank cities in March 2002, went in the same vein as the PLC reform document and set down measures that are necessary for a functioning political system based on the principles of rule of law, transparency and accountability. Furthermore, it called for the restructuring of the Palestinian security apparatus, and for their subjection to the supervision of the ministry of interior. In addition, the plan unified the finances of the PA in the general treasury account and procured all PA revenues in terms of fees, loans, grants, taxes and others incoming to the PA through its activities.753

The Palestinian concern with reform was not confined to formal political institutions, but extended also to include civil society, which adopted a reform plan in 2002 asserting the above reform measures.754 The general public was also concerned with reform. On more than one occasion, the public expressed opposition to Arafat’s semi-autocratic rule. On 25 October 1998, hundreds of Palestinians protested against the murder of a Palestinian by the Palestinian security forces in Ramallah. The protestors shouted, “PA, PA, we want an end to torture, we want freedom.” In a similar fashion, hundreds of Palestinians protested against the sentences of death, of life imprisonment and of 15 years imprisonment handed down by the state security court to three Palestinians convicted of killing Rifat Mohammed Joudeh, a Sergeant in the Preventive Security Forces, on 10 February 1999.

Thus, Palestinians were very interested in reform. At the same time, however, they sought a type of reform that would not contradict their national aspirations. As Graham Usher points out, “Palestinians are not uninterested in democratic change. They are simply not prepared to trade domestic reform for the national independence.”757 For Palestinians the reform process implies a practicing democracy, based on transparency, accountability, rule of law and respect for human rights, under a strong leadership capable of realizing their national aspirations of independence, self-determination and return. This was, and still is, the Palestinian vision of reform. Though Arafat failed to realize Palestinians' aspirations in a democratic and rule of law-based political system, he strongly opposed any surrender of their national aspirations, demanding an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, self-determination and return. Arafat’s position in this regard was very clear in the Camp David II summit which took place under the auspices of former American President Bill Clinton during 11-24 July 2000.

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Long overdue, the summit dealt with final status issues, including the future of the Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem and borders. The three main actors of the summit were under pressure and in urgent need of an agreement over these issues. President Clinton was about to leave office, a fact that compelled him to call for the summit so that his political legacy could culminate with a historical achievement: the settlement of one of the longest and most complicated global conflicts.

Then Israeli Prime Minster Ihood Barak also needed an agreement, as he had already staked his political future on a historical agreement with Palestinians. At the same time, Palestinians had already announced their intention to declare a Palestinian state by September 13 of that year. Such a declaration would have had great momentum if there was agreement over the final status issues.758

Though the three actors had the desire to conclude an agreement, Israel, backed by US, was unprepared to settle the conflict on the basis of UN resolutions 242 and 194. While the former resolution provides for a total Israeli pullout from the land occupied during the 1967 war, including the WBGS and East Jerusalem, the latter also provides for the return of all Palestinian refugees to their land.

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Instead of these resolutions, it was said that Israel proposed a settlement to the conflict based on an Israeli withdrawal from 85% of the West Bank after the conclusion of the final status agreement, with an additional withdrawal from a further 7% of the West Bank within a couple of years. In exchange for this withdrawal, Israel would annexe the main West Bank settlements (up to 8% of the West Bank) under its sovereignty. With regard to the border between the West Bank and Jordan, Israel proposed Palestinian control over 80% of it, and Israeli control over the remaining 20% (mainly the borders close to the Dead Sea).

As far as East Jerusalem was concerned, it was said that Israel proposed the city’s division into three zones. One zone would be under complete Israeli sovereignty, another under some form of Palestinian sovereignty. The remaining zone would enjoy the same status as areas “B” in the West Bank, where Palestinians enjoy civil authority, while Israel enjoys authority over security affairs. As far as the Al-Aqsa Mosque was concerned, Israel proposed its internationalisation while Palestinians would be allowed to raise their flag above it. In the meanwhile, Israel refused to admit its moral and legal responsibility for the problem of the refugees - estimated at 3.5 million worldwide - notwithstanding its readiness to allow thousands of them to return to the “state of Palestine” within the context of “family reunion”.759

According to reported information, what Israel sought was a new form of the Oslo process with its “interim attributes” that were disastrous for Palestinian national aspirations. Because of that, Israel did not hesitate to accept the American proposal of postponing the issue of Jerusalem to future negotiations while signing an agreement in relation to other issues. The American proposal, aimed at offsetting Arafat’s rejection of the Israeli proposal, was in vein, as Arafat turned it down, insisting on full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Palestinian right to return.760

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Because of his position in Camp David II, Arafat was besieged and suddenly became a patron of terror and a blocker of democratic transformation,761 notwithstanding his readiness to implement an “unconditional cessation of violence” and to “immediately resume security cooperation” with Israel as it was manifested in the conclusions of the Sharm-El Sheikh summit convened on 17 October 2000, the Mitchell Report of 30 April 2001, Tenet Plan of June 2001,762 and the peace initiative of the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in 2001. The initiative, adopted by the Arab League summit in Beirut on 27 March 2001, provided for a complete Israeli pullout from WBGS in return for normalized diplomatic relations between Arab states and Israel.763

Nevertheless, the continued attacks of Hamas and Islamic Jihad against Israeli civilians- despite, and because of, Israeli security measures, including excessive and lethal use of force against Palestinians - left little room for Arafat to manoeuvre. More importantly, they promoted frustration among Israelis in a manner that enabled Sharon to win the premiership from Barak.

Sharon's rise to power put an end to the Oslo Accords and left the whole peace process without any terms of reference. This fact was manifested on the ground with Sharon’s siege of Arafat and with his total refusal to deal with Arafat as a peace partner. Ironically, Sharon’s position towards Arafat was the one upon which Bush's administration formulated its vision of peace in the Middle East, as we have seen above. In other words, Bush and his administration adopted the same position as Sharon, rejecting Arafat as a peace partner. But unlike Sharon, the US administration expressed its opposition to Arafat by besieging him politically, under the pretext of reform, which was used as an instrument to diminish Arafat’s authority in favour of more pliable elite, ready to surrender the Palestinian national aspirations for independence, self-determination and return.

Reform: Arafat’s Bow to the “Winds”

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In early 2003, a peace plan for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was debated by members of the Quartet Committee, comprised of the US, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations. The plan, which would come to be known as the “Road Map”, was formally submitted to Israelis and Palestinians on 30 April 2003764 and proposed a three-phase settlement of the conflict. Each phase was marked by a particular timeframe and placed reciprocal obligations on both Israelis and Palestinians. The movement from one phase to the next depended on both parties’ success of meeting the obligations placed on them by the assigned phase. The extent of each party’s success in meeting its obligations in the assigned phase was to be decided by the Quartet Committee. The plan’s three phases and commitments for each party were as follows:

Phase I (February-May 2003)

Palestinian Responsibilities

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Israeli Responsibilities

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Phase II (June-December 2003)

In this phase, efforts were to be exerted with the aim of paving the way for an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty. All of this was conditioned on the success of Palestinians to meet the obligations placed upon them in phase I: to build a functioning democracy, to fight terror, to end all forms of violence, to rebuild their security apparatus, to hold presidential and parliamentary elections, and to appoint a prime minister. Could the Palestinians meet these obligations? An international conference will be convened by the Quartet Committee, in consultation with the concerned parties, about the Palestinian economy’s recovery after the Palestinian elections.

Phase III (2004-2005)

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The completion of phases I and II would leave Palestinians owning their own sustainable political institutions and economic systems. Phase III, accordingly, proposed a second international peace conference with the aim of arriving at a comprehensive permanent status agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2005 through a settlement negotiated between the parties, based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.

The “Road Map” was an international declaration of the death of the Oslo process and its terms of reference, and the birth of new terms of reference. However, the plan was inspired by the same philosophy as the Oslo process, namely, a phases-oriented settlement to the conflict. Furthermore, and as usual, the plan placed huge commitments on Palestinians while making Israel’s obligations conditional on the satisfaction of Palestinians' commitments.

More importantly, the plan lacked any “enforcement mechanisms”. In other words, it is not clear whether the Quartet Committee had the power to force both parties to implement the plan, notwithstanding its power to decide the extent to which both parties have succeeded in meeting their obligations. The role of the Quartet Committee was, therefore, a supervisory one, without any power to enforce the plan’s clauses. This left the future of the plan subject to balance of power logic. Thus, we are talking about the same philosophy of Oslo process; the balance of power. However, Arafat was in no position to turn the plan down. Two factors made Arafat unable to turn the plan down:

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As part of his acceptance of the “Road Map” plan, Arafat announced his decision to appoint a prime minister on 14 February 2003.765 This decision was intended to transform the Palestinian political system from a presidential one (discussed in chapter III) to a presidential parliamentary system. However, this intended transformation lacked any constitutional recourse. In other words, there was nothing in the Basic Law, the Palestinian constitution during the interim period, which provided for a premiership.

In fact, Arafat was the one who formed the cabinet, presided over its meetings, approved/disapproved ministers’ resignations, held ministers to account, and dismissed them. Though the PLC enjoyed the right, in principle, to hold ministers to account, the status quo showed that Arafat was the only one who could do so in fact (as we have seen in the chapters III, Pp. 156-168, and IV, P. 183). Palestinians, therefore, had to amend their constitution (the Basic Law) to accommodate the new developments.

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On 8 March 2003, Arafat appointed Mohammoud Abbas (better known as Abu Mazen), the secretary of PLO’s executive committee, to the premiership and called the PLC for an emergency session to approve the creation of the position and the appointment. Accordingly, the PLC was convened on 10 March, and added new articles to the Basic Law clarifying the prime minister’s powers.

According to these articles, the prime minister would be appointed by the PA president. The prime minister became empowered to form the cabinet with a number of ministers not exceeding 24 (in the past, the Basic Law provided for a number of ministers not exceeding 19, see chapter IV, P. 183) and would be required to do so within three weeks from the date of his selection by the PA president. Furthermore, the prime minister became empowered to call cabinet meetings, to preside over these meetings, and to dismiss and hold to account any minister in his cabinet. He, together with his cabinet, became accountable to the PLC who had the right to extend/withdraw confidence in him, his cabinet or any minister in his cabinet. If the PLC withdrew confidence in the prime minister or the cabinet, the PA president would be asked to appoint a new prime minister for the PLC's approval within a period not exceeding three weeks from the date of the PLC's withdrawal of confidence in the former prime minister or cabinet.

While the prime minister and his cabinet became accountable to the PLC, only the prime minister became accountable to the PA president who would approve/disapprove his resignation. As far as the ministers are concerned, only the prime minister would have the right to approve/disapprove their resignation. The PA president would no longer have power in this connection.

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Nevertheless, the PA president continued to enjoy the right to propose draft laws for the PLC’s approval and to ask the prime minister to call a cabinet meeting when one was necessary. More importantly, while the prime minister became responsible for maintaining order and public security, following up implementation of laws, proposing annual budgets, proposing draft laws, supervising foreign policy, appointing personnel to senior posts in the PA civil apparatus, and creating new public institutions, he lacked clear authority over security forces, which remain under the control of the PA president who assumes the post of commander-in-chief.766

Thus, the Basic Law left unclear who controlled the security forces. While the prime minister (or the minister of interior) became empowered to maintain order and security, which implies that these forces should be at his disposal and that the heads of these forces should be appointed by him, Arafat remained the one who controlled these forces and appointed their heads. On 18 March 2003, Arafat ratified the Basic Law with its new amendments767 and consequently laid dawn the legal foundation of a presidential parliamentary system. Mohammoud Abbas, therefore, was legally obliged to start forming his cabinet.

To form the cabinet, Abbas had to overcome huge difficulties. Abbas, very well known for his condemnation of violence against civilians (Israelis and Palestinians alike), is considered to figure among the wise and moderate old guards of the PLO. He stands against suicide bombings of Israeli civilians and against the militarization of the resistance against the occupation.768 Abbas’s position in this regard clashes with the strategy of the main Palestinian factions like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP, all of which support the militarization of the resistance against the occupation and oppose the “Road Map” plan. This fact made it difficult for Abbas to reach an agreed national formula with these factions and, therefore, to form a national unity government.769

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Abbas encountered difficulties not only with opposition factions, but also with PA President Arafat. On 13 April 2003, Abbas proposed his cabinet, naming himself as minister of interior.770 For Abbas, the post of minister of interior, in line with the Road Map, implied full authority over the eleven Palestinian security forces. This was strongly opposed by Arafat who wanted these forces under the command of a Palestinian national security council with himself in chair.

The conflict between the two men was not confined to this issue, but extended to include the post of minister of state for security affairs. While Abbas proposed Muhammad Dahaln, the former chief of the Gaza Strip Preventive Security Forces, for this post, Arafat opposed this proposal. Dahaln, a very well known loyalist to Arafat during the interim period, was considered one of the few Palestinian political figures to win Israel's favour. CNN quoted the Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesman, Rannan Gissin, on 24 April 2003 as saying that "Dahaln is a man of action. He is not going to be a marionette for Arafat. It is not surprising that Arafat has been opposing him.”

Not only did Dahaln win Israel's favour, he also built a power centre (in his function as the former chief of the Gaza Strip Preventive Security Forces) and gained the loyalty of thousands of young Gazan militants, far from Arafat’s satellite of control. This fact enabled Dahaln to turn on Arafat and to become one of Arafat’s most prominent critics during the Al-Aqsa intifada.

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These two issues (Dahaln and the security authorities) left the future of the government uncertain and almost brought about the premature demise of Abbas' endeavour to form his own government. However, international pressure (mainly from the European Union) coupled with local pressure (mainly from the PLC) forced both men to reach an agreement, assigning the post of minister of state for security affairs to Dahaln (who, with the minister of interior, assumes direct responsibility for the Preventive Security Forces, Emergency Services and Rescue, and Civil Police) while leaving Arafat as commander-in-chief of the security forces (who assumes direct responsibility for General Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Public Security Forces, Presidential Security, Military Police, Air Guard, and Special Security).771 Arafat's and Abbas’ deal enabled the PLC to exercise its authority and to extend confidence in the Abbas government with 51 members in favour, 18 in opposition and 3 abstentions on 29 April 2003.772

Abbas' Government: Between the Palestinian and Israeli Traps

The PLC's vote of confidence in Abbas' government, in a sense, put it on trial. The challenge was twofold: affecting political reform and ending the violence. In others words, Abbas’ government was asked to bring about structural adjustments in the financial, security, judicial, and administrative sectors, whilst simultaneously ending the violence, and disarming the various factions.

While Abbas’ government was to be tried mainly by Palestinians (as far as the first matter was concerned), Israel, backed by the US, was to try Abbas and his government on the second matter. Aware of these facts, Abbas initiated immediate reform measures. In this connection, Abbas’ government merged approximately 78 independent commissions and administrations into the ministries to eliminate duplication among the roles and responsibilities of these commissions and administrations. 773

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More important was Abbas' decision to expand the “ministerial committee for reform and development” formed by Arafat in 2002. Initially, upon its formation, the committee comprised ministers only, but under Abbas' government, other ministers, PLC members, and civil society and private sector representatives were added. The most notable of these ministers were Salam Fayyad, Nabil Kassis, Ziad Abu Amr and Ghassan El Khatib. With the exception of Fayyad, the three remaining ministers are former professors at the prestigious and highly regarded Bir Zeit University, in the West Bank. The most notable PLC members of the committee were Hanan Ashrawi, a very well known advocate of reform, and Azmi al-Shu’abyi, an advocate of financial transparency (see chapter IV). Furthermore, the committee included Raji El-Sourani and Mustafa El Barghuti, both human rights activists.774

The composition of the committee was a clear indication of Abbas' intention to initiate comprehensive reform touching every sector of society: political, legal, administrative, financial, human rights, and economic. Toward this end, Abbas empowered the committee to set down the intended reform plan but at same time, left a free hand for the Minister of Finance Fayyad to adopt any urgent reform measures.

Fayyad, considered an independent in the political sense, and a well known financial expert, was born in Nablus in 1952 and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Texas, in Austin. In the period of 1987-1992, he served as assistant to the Executive Director of the IMF before serving as advisor to the IMF Executive Director in the period of 1992-1995. In the period of 1996-2002, he served as regional director of the Arab Bank, before resigning his post to be appointed by Arafat as the minister of finance in June 2002.775

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Since his appointment to the post of minister of finance, Fayyad concluded a number of decisions aimed at improving the financial conditions of PA civil servants and security personnel. Among these was the decision to cancel the deduction of 5% from the salaries of the PA civil servants and security personnel. This 5%, said to be deducted to support the jobless Palestinians and families of martyrs, was subject to a complaint by PA civil servants and security personnel, particularly in light of the low remuneration of these servants/personnel, which did not exceed US$274 per month and which decreases to US$135 per month when unpaid family members are taken into account.

Furthermore, all security personnel were asked to draw their salaries from Palestinian banks and not from their commanders as was the case before. This decision was taken to bring the salaries of the security forces (with the exception of salaries of Amn Al Ri’asa, or Presidential Security, which remained in an independent budget) under the supervision of the ministry of finance and, therefore, to unify the finances of the PA in the account of the general treasury.777 Under Abbas’ government, these decisions were executed, and the Palestinian civil servants and security personnel, starting with the pay period of July 2003, enjoyed the 5% which had been deducted from their salaries in the past. As well, the security personnel started to draw their salaries from the banks.778

Moreover, Fayyad, supported by Abbas’ government, managed to address many of the negative features of the Palestinian bureaucracy, like irrational appointments (for these appointments see chapter V). During Fayyad’s term, no one was permitted to be enrolled on the PA’s payroll unless he was recruited through institutionalised recruitment methods according to clearly defined job descriptions and task specifications. In 2003, for instance, at least 800 Palestinian personnel were dismissed from their jobs after it was discovered that they were appointed through illegal means.779

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Of vital importance was Fayyad’s “war” against the officially sanctioned monopolies. Aswe have mentioned in chapter III (Pp. 159-160), these monopolies assume control over the basic products like wheat, fuel, cement and so forth. During Fayyad’s term, these monopolies were brought under the supervision of the ministry of finance. This fact manifested itself institutionally, according to Farid Ghanam, Director-General of public finance, in the evolution of the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF). The PIF fell under the ministry of finance, was run by a seven-member board (including the minister of finance, minister of economics and representatives of the private sector), supervised all PA merchandise and investments, and managed these activities transparently.780 In this sense, the revenue of the officially sanctioned monopolies had been connected to the ministry central auditing system.781

Having enjoyed authority over these monopolies, Fayyad cancelled the high fees imposed by these monopolies on any private company which sought to import these products (fuel for example) to WBGS.782 This high fee prevented any private company from moving into the market and, therefore, enabled these monopolies to set whatever prices they wanted for the products. In others words, due to these monopolies Palestinians were denied the opportunity to enjoy free market privileges and, therefore, were subjected to grafts (see chapter III, Pp. 159-160).

Fayyad’s cancellation of these fees reflected his awareness of the free market as an arena of fairness and justice, and as an efficient instrument that ensures people with good and services at minimum prices. Due to his decision, the quantities of benzene sold to the public increased by nearly 83% in the period of May (when the ministry assumed supervision on these monopolies) to July 2003. In addition, the quantities of diesel sold shifted by about 228% during the same period. This shifted PA revenue from taxes on fuel by about 56% in the same period, despite the low price of fuel, when compared to the period before May 2003.783

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This increase in PA revenue from taxes on fuel took place simultaneously with an increase in PA revenue resulting from Fayyad’s rational appointment policy, which eliminated a high portion of the PA’s inefficient spending. Together with the other collected fees and taxes (income taxes for example), the monthly average PA revenue from taxes and fees is estimated at US$17 million during the first half of 2003. This sum, alongside the estimated Israeli monthly transfer in the same period (US$31 million), monthly donor aid (US$19 million), and some US$28 million formerly frozen by Israel but relinquished to the PA in the first half of 2003, enabled the PA to cover its monthly expenditures estimated at US$93 million for the first half of 2003.784

Nevertheless, Fayyad’s reformist revolution did not address all the negative features of the Palestinian administration, among which were nepotism & favouritism. These two features remained serious problems in spite of Fayyad’s endeavours to eliminate them. For instance, while I was leaving the ministry of finance after having interviewed Ghanam, I met with tens of Palestinian graduates who were marching before the ministry headquarters in protest against the ministry's failure to employ them. Some of them told me that they had been looking for a job for over three years, and not one of the PA officials was prepared to help them. When I asked them how PA officials failed to help them, all of them answered “because we do have no connections with high ranking officials or personnel occupying senior posts in PA civil and security apparatus.” Surprisingly, these graduates were chanting, “Oh, our Brother Arafat, come and end our suffering. Oh, our Brother Arafat, they (PA officials) used your siege to enrich themselves at our expense.”785

Paradoxically, the person on whom the graduates were calling to end their suffering and to streamline the bureaucracy was the same one who blocked Abbas' endeavours to reform PA civil and security apparatus. As we have seen above, Fayyad succeeded in initiating some reform measures, and his success was partly attributable to Abbas who supported Fayyad in these endeavours. As a result, Palestinian popular support for Abbas grew, with an April 2003 poll showing that 28.7% of Palestinians believed that Abbas would continue with the reform process as against 17.4% who believed the contrary.786 Abbas' growing legitimacy in the eyes of Palestinians coincided with his growing legitimacy in the eyes of the European Union and the US, both of which expressed sympathy with him and satisfaction with his appointment to the premiership.787

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Abbas' dual legitimacy constituted a serious threat to Arafat’s status in WBGS and in the international arena, which should be understood in light of Sharon’s siege on Arafat and the resulting deterioration of Arafat’s influence over the “rules of the game” in the WBGS and over regional and international actors. Thus, Abbas threatened to build a strong power centre away from Arafat's sphere of control and, consequently, to emerge as a de-facto alternative to Arafat.

To combat this possibility - and to spoil Sharon’s plan to remove him from the political scene - Arafat tried to weaken Abbas at the internal level in order to offset his status at the international level. As Hani al-Masri, a Palestinian political analyst, emphasized, “Arafat has deliberately … prevented the emergence of an alternative Palestinian political leadership to ward off Sharon’s decision to remove him.”788

The means of achieving this end was to block Abbas' reforms. The affairs of the “Authority of Aviation” and the “Diwan El M’wadfeen” (the Personnel Agency) of July and August, respectively, may substantiate our analysis. In July 2003, Arafat appointed Fayez Zaydan as Minister of the Authority of Aviation and Suliman Haleeb as Deputy-Minister.789 As discussed above, only the prime minister, by virtue of the amendments to the Basic Law, was empowered to appoint personnel to senior posts in the PA civil apparatus and to create new public institutions.

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In this sense, Arafat enjoyed no legal right to make the mentioned appointments, and only Abbas or someone on his behalf, in this case the minister of transportation, had any such right. Bearing in mind that the Authority of Aviation was merged with the ministry of transportation, in line with Abbas's policy of merging commissions and administrations with similar duties to the ministries, it can be concluded that Arafat’s appointments meant that there would be two aviation authorities: one connected to the minister of transportation and the other to Arafat.

In other words, there would be one under the cabinet and another under the president. This, of course, would lead to an overlap of duties, prevent a clear demarcation of roles and consequently turn the clock back to the administrative anarchy that marked Palestinian bureaucracy. In turn, the administrative anarchy would bring about weakness in Abbas’ government since its legitimacy derived mainly from its success in initiating reform measures.

The Diwan El M’wadfeen affair is another case showing how Arafat deliberately sought to weaken Abbas’ government by blocking reform. On 27 August 2003, Abbas' government decided to appoint Sakhr Basiso, Secretary of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah, as General Director of the Diwan El M’wadfeen instead of Abdel Aziz Abu Shari’a, an Arafat appointee and loyalist.790 In fact, Abu Shari’a had assumed the post of general director of the Diwan El M’wadfeen since its foundation in 1994. In this sense, he oversaw all administrative issues of PA civil servants, as the Diwan El M’wadfeen is empowered to manage the administrative issues of PA civil servants, as shown in chapter V (Pp. 219-220). Because of that, Abu Shari’a was regarded by Palestinians as being responsible for many illegal appointments in the PA bureaucracy. In this sense, Abbas’ government considered its decision as a reform measure.

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On 30 August, Basiso went to his office to assume his responsibilities as general director of the Diwan El M’wadfeen. There he encountered tens of young armed men and was forced to leave the place under the threat of violence. The armed men justified their act as one in support of Arafat’s decision to keep Abu Shari’a in the post. Consequently, Abu Shari’a remained in his post, and the decision of Abbas’ government was not executed.791 The event shows how the Abbas government, notwithstanding the authority it enjoyed, lacked the power to implement its decisions mainly due to Arafat’s continued control over the source of coercion - an issue that remained most controversial between Abbas’ government and Arafat during the Abbas government’s short term (April-September 2003).

Apart from Arafat’s attempts to abrogate his reformist measures, Abbas' whole reform strategy was conditioned on his ability to maintain the unilateral cease-fire with the opposition factions. In June 2003, Hamas and Islamic Jihad endorsed Abbas’ demand for a unilateral cessation of hostilities against Israel. The cease-fire included the cessation of suicide operations and exchanges of fire with Israeli forces. From it, Abbas sought to pave the way for a multilateral truce with Sharon, ending the extrajudicial killings of Palestinians and Israeli incursions in the PA ruled areas, and lifting the closures. In turn, it was hoped that this would promote the secure environment necessary to resume peace talks according to the Road Map.

However, Israel’s determination to maintain its military operations, including its incursions and extrajudicial killings, encouraged a Hamas suicide bomber to blow up a bus in Jerusalem, killing 22 Israelis on 19 August 2003. Two days later, Sharon's government avenged the killing of the 22 Israelis by assassinating the Hamas political leader, Ismail Abu Shanab. These two events signified a de-facto collapse of the cease-fire even before the Sharon government declared a formal end to the cease-fire and vowed to continue the “all-out-war” against Hamas on 1 September.792 With this declaration, Abbas had no alternative but to resign his post and to admit his failure on 6 September 2003, and to abandon all efforts of ministerial committee reform and development.

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Addressing the PLC, Abbas clarified the main reasons for his resignation, pointing to the building of the Separation Wall, which, according to Abbas, “[blocked] the road of any progress in the peace process. Israel practises the most horrible oppression against our people, land and national rights. Israel failed to meet her commitments in the Road Map.” Abbas mentioned internal obstacles as well, emphasizing the incitement to which his government was subjected and the little support he and his government enjoyed: “I have done my utmost to bring about certain political achievements. Nevertheless, it seems that the issue is not of a political achievement, rather, of the political determination of some to block this government’s success.”793

The “Political Map” of Sharon: Israel’s Separation Wall

As we have seen, the Road Map sought a comprehensive peace settlement based on a two states solution under international supervision. It alarmed Sharon who realized that Israel would ultimately have to act in accordance with the plan and freeze its settlement activities in the OPT as stipulated by the plan. To combat this possibility, new facts on the ground would have to be created to ensure Israel’s control over Jewish settlements regardless of the type of future peace settlement with Palestinians, the bantustanization of any future Palestinian state, the fragmentation of Palestinian society and economy, and if possible, the expulsion of a majority of Palestinians to neighbouring Arab countries. These were - and continue to be - the main features of Sharon’s political map. Sharon primary instrument for delineation of this map is the controversial Israeli “Separation Wall” (called the “Security Fence” by Israelis).

The idea for the “Separation Wall” must be credited to the former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin whose 1992 electoral victory was traceable to his pre-election comments after the stabbing of an Israeli by a Palestinian in Jerusalem. At that time, Rabin declared that Israel must “take Gaza out of Tel Aviv.”794 This approach led him to sign the Oslo accords with the PLO. Later, in 1994, Rabin formed a ministerial committee to set down a plan for separating Palestinians in the PA-controlled areas from Israelis. Rabin’s decision followed the escalation of suicide bombings by Hamas and Islamic Jihad against Israelis. A fence, therefore, was erected around Gaza to coincide with the handover of control there to the PA under the Oslo accords. However, no fence was erected in the West Bank, and the findings of the ministerial committee came to naught due to Rabin's assassination.795

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Shimon Peres, Rabin’s successor, was inspired by his dream of a “New Middle East” founded on economic integration rather than separation, and chose not to move in the direction Rabin had. Likud’s hawkish Benjamin Netanyahau, who followed Peres, did the same but for a very different reason: to appease the settlers who strongly opposed the idea of the wall.796 But with the failure of Camp David II and the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada, the idea was seriously revived by Ihud Barak, who succeeded Netanyahu in the premiership. During Barak’s term, the idea was embodied in a plan for the construction of a barrier stretching from Jenin in the northern West Bank to Latrun in the south, in November 2000. However, some financial and political factors froze the plan.797

With the rise of Sharon to office in 2001, Barak’s plan was invoked and modified before the Israeli cabinet approved it in the form of the "Separation Wall" in July 2001 and started executing the first phase (phase “A”) in June 2002.798 This phase included the building of a segment of the wall that stretches from the village of Salam in the north of Jenin to El-Qana south of Qalqilya, in addition to a 22 km segment around East Jerusalem. The second phase, or phase “B”, endorsed by the cabinet in January 2003, included the building of 45 km of wall along the north of the West Bank. The third and forth phases, phases “C” and “D”, announced in March 2003, cut halfway into the West Bank to include the main settlement blocs (like Keddumin and Ariel settlements) on the Israeli side while simultaneously fragmenting the largest portion of Bethlehem and Hebron.799

The completion of these four phases will provide a wall with a length of 360 km. With the wall that is planned for the Jordan Valley, which will place all the fertile land on the Israeli side, the total length of the wall will increase to 700 km and be three times as long as the Berlin Wall.800 According to the World Bank’s estimation, the wall will enable Israel to annex around 10% of the West Bank, leaving only 42% of the West Bank, in the form of isolated bantustans, under Palestinian control.801 Furthermore, around 400,000 Palestinians will be displaced from their land, and nearly a third of the West Bank population will lose access to their cultivatable land. This will enable Israel to annex de facto 129 out of an estimated 141 settlements in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and incorporate nearly 90% of the West Bank settlers, estimated at 400,000.802

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For example, phase “A”, declared completed in July 2003, had already expropriated 123,000 dunums (constituting 2% of the West Bank), displaced some 12,000 Palestinians, and denied the population of 115 Palestinian towns and villages access to its cultivated land.803 In the event that Israel continues construction of the wall according to its plan, it is expected that the 42% of the West Bank remaining under Palestinian control will be divided into three isolated bantustans, together with a disconnected forth in Gaza which is already surrounded by a fence,804 thereby rendering talk about a future viable Palestinian state devoid of any meaning.

All the indicators show that Sharon is determined to keep constructing the wall according to the prescribed phases. In November 2003, he declared that should there be no progress with the Road Map, he “would not rule out” proceeding “unilaterally”. He would complete the construction of the wall in the West Bank, “redeploy” the army to more “defensible borders” and perhaps remove a dozen or so settlements that even the wall can not secure.805

Sharon’s statements laid down the main principles of the Gaza disengagement plan, as we will see later. They were delivered in response to an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing that left 19 Israelis dead and tens of others injured on 4October 2003. The bombing, committed in Haifa to avenge the killing of nearly 20 Palestinian activists and civilians three weeks prior,806 happened just a month after Arafat’s appointment of Ahmad Qrieh (better known as Abu Ala’) to the premiership after Abbas resigned. Thus, the bombing put Qrieh in a difficult position, particularly after Israel blamed the PA for its failure to halt suicide bombings and the Israeli cabinet threatened to expel Arafat from the territories. A state of emergency was announced, and Qrieh reduced his cabinet to nine ministers807 in order to deal with Israeli threats against Arafat.

Qrieh's Government: In Line with Arafat’s Will

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As noted above, following Abbas’ resignation from the premiership, Arafat appointed Qrieh, who resigned his post as PLC Speaker. Like Abbas, Qrieh was asked to form his cabinet within three weeks of his appointment. Unlike Abbas, Qrieh seemed unwilling to commit the same mistakes as Abbas. From the beginning, Qrieh threw the ball into the Quartet’s field when he asserted that the cessation of violence and suicide bombings would be conditional on a cease-fire agreement “to be observed by the concerned parties”,808 including the Quartet members (the US, the UN, Russia, and the EU). In so doing, Qrieh sought to pass the initiative to the Quartet in the hope of upgrading its supervisory role to one of enforcement.

In the meanwhile, Qrieh seemed unwilling to challenge Arafat’s grip over security forces when he tolerated the foundation of the Palestinian National Security Council (PNSC) as the umbrella under which all security forces were to be gathered. Empowered to establish an overall security policy, the PNSC was formed of the PA president (Arafat) as chair, the prime minister, the minister of finance, the minister of interior, a member of the PLO executive committee, a member of the PLC, heads of the National Security Force (Qwaat Al Amn Al Watani) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the head of general intelligence (El Mukhabbarat al-Amma), the head of military intelligence, in addition to a number of security advisors.809

Qrieh bowed to Arafat’s wishes to control the security forces and to monopolize the means of coercion. In fact, Qrieh sought to avoid a possible threat to his political career. At the same time, he sought to demonstrate that he was more loyal to Arafat than to the US or Israel in order to bolster his legitimacy in the eyes of Palestinians.

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Qrieh’s loyalty to Arafat was clear when he dismissed Dahaln, who had already declared that he would not serve in any government but Abbas’,810 from his cabinet, which he proposed to form with a Fatah majority after Islamic Jihad, Hamas and PFLP once again refused to participate in any government under the Road Map.811 Though non-Fatah members were initially proposed for Qrieh’s cabinet,812 Qrieh quickly excluded them from his cabinet and confined it to nine ministers (originally it included 24), in line with Arafat’s preference for a Fatah-dominated emergency cabinet primed to address Israel’s threats against him.

Four of the nine ministers had served in Abbas’ cabinet (Nabil Sha’at, Naim Abu El Hummus, Sa’eb Erekat and Salam Fayyad). However, with the exception of Fayyad, the remaining three were affiliated with Fatah and known Arafat loyalists. The others, like Nasser Youssef (Minister of Interior), Abdel El Rahman Hamd (Minister of Housing and Public Works), Jamal El Shubki (Minister of Local Government) and Jawad El Tibi (Minister of Health), were newly appointed and also affiliated with Fatah.813 On 7 October 2003, Qrieh and seven other ministers of the emergency cabinet were sworn in before Arafat in accordance with the Basic Law, which empowered the PA president to declare a state of emergency without PLC approval for one month, after which the approval of two thirds of PLC members was required (see chapter IV, P. 183).814

However, minister of interior Nasser Youssef took a different position, demanding that the cabinet be approved by the PLC before being sworn in before Arafat. As a result, Youssef did not take the oath before Arafat,815 who in turn smeared Youssef with the same tar as Dahaln. “He wants to work with the Americans and the Israelis against the interest of our people,” Arafat told Fatah officials in Ramallah when he was asked about his sudden swing in opinion about Youssef after his previous acceptance of Youssef as minister of interior.816 Quickly, Qrieh turned against Youssef and dismissed him, before accepting Arafat's appointment of Hakam Ba’lawi, a member of the PLC and of Fatah's central committee and an Arafat loyalist, as acting Minister of Interior (he assumed direct responsibility for the preventive security forces, emergency services and rescue and civil police).817

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In a sense, Arafat ultimately determined the composition of the emergency cabinet and the cabinet’s policy, which sought to reach a cease-fire agreement with the opposition factions before concluding a multilateral truce, with Israel ending extrajudicial killings, freezing the construction of the Separation Wall and lifting the closure. Qrieh clearly expressed this policy, vowing not to drag Palestinians into a civil war: "[T]he Palestinian-Palestinian conflict is a taboo. We are not going to play the Israeli game and drag ourselves into a civil war. We will keep our dialogue with the Palestinian factions including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others.”818

It seems unlikely that Arafat was not fully aware that such a cease-fire was a far-fetched one given the failure of Abbas' and the expected escalation of Israeli measures on the ground. Still, Arafat supported Qrieh’s policy precisely because of its likelihood of failure, which would demonstrate to the US and Israel that Arafat was the only one who could halt the violence and suicide bombings.819 As such, Israel would have to refrain from adopting any serious measures against him, like expelling him from the territories in order to remove him from the political scene.

At the same time, the failure of Qrieh’s dialogue policy would weaken Qrieh’s status internally, and make him fully dependent on Arafat and, thereby, less reluctant to disobey Arafat’s future instructions. In this connection, Arafat managed to realize his goals, as demonstrated by the developments following the day on which the term of Qrieh's emergency cabinet expired.

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As noted above, Qrieh’s was an emergency cabinet the term of which was only a month, after which approval of two thirds of the PLC was required. On 4 November 2003, the term expired. Arafat was legally obligated to ask the PLC for a further extension of the cabinet’s term, or to declare the dissolution of the government and ask Qrieh or another to form a new one. As PLC member Azmi al-Shu’abyi pointed out, Arafat “failed to ask the PLC to extend Qrieh’s government’s term.”820

Instead, Arafat said the Qrieh government would be “streamlined” until an expanded government was formed.821 When Qrieh began expanding his government, he was in no position to resist Arafat’s wishes to keep Hakam Ba’lawi, an Arafat appointee and loyalist, for the interior portfolio and to leave the security forces under the PNSC with Arafat as chair. Ultimately, Arafat and Qrieh agreed upon this formula before the declaration of Qrieh’s regular cabinet. As Qrieh himself pointed out: “We agreed to unify the security forces in a manner that ensured the fulfilment of our commitments under the leadership of Abu Amar [Arafat].”822

With the exception of a few ministers (like Salam Fayyad), most of Qrieh’s regular cabinet ministers were from among Arafat's old guard: Nabil Sha’at, Sa’eb Erekat, Intisar El Wazir, Mitri Abu Ita, Mahr El Masri, Jawad El Tibi, Rawhi Fatoh and others.823 In this sense, the government was structured in a manner that enhanced Arafat’s power and status. Hassan Abu Libdah, the newly appointed director of the prime minister’s bureau, admitted this fact when he declared that

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“…this government was formed not to diminish the President (Arafat) or share his authorities. Rather, it was formed to strengthen the PA, to end chaos, to initiate a comprehensive reform, to prepare for the elections, and to push forward the peace process. These are the main priorities of the government which Mr. Arafat set up for Qrieh and asked him to fulfil.”824

On 12 November 2003, the PLC voted in favour of Qrieh's government with 48 in favour, 13 opposed and 5 abstentions.825 In so doing, the PLC formally recognized Arafat's authority over the government, thereby turning back the clock to a de facto presidential system with Arafat standing unchallenged and in control.

Sharon’s Unilateral Steps: Towards the Gaza Disengagement Plan

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In a sense, Sharon benefited from Arafat's de facto control over Qrieh's government, as Sharon used it as an excuse to proceed unilaterally, starting with the construction of the first phase of the Separation Wall, by arguing that there was no fundamental change in the Palestinian political system and that Arafat, “the number one enemy of peace”, as Sharon prefers to describes him, remained the unchallenged actor in Palestinian politics. Palestinians, Sharon continued, failed to meet their obligations under the Road Map, including the full empowerment of the Palestinian prime minister. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post in October 2003, Sharon stated that

“…an agreement with the Palestinians won’t happen by itself. It requires a Palestinian prime minister who really would be strong. So far the reforms have not been implemented. Any prime minister now would have his hands tied by Arafat.”826

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Consequently, Sharon had the pretext to proceed unilaterally and to impose his own vision of a final settlement with Palestinians with the full support of the Bush administration.827 In February 2004, Sharon dropped a political bombshell when he announced his plan to dismantle most of the 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, where some 5,000 settlers live, among 1.3 million Palestinians.828 The plan, which became commonly known as the "Gaza disengagement plan", embodied the formal Israeli position towards the final status settlement with Palestinians and included the dismantling of only a few settlements in the West Bank.

The Jewish settlements expected to be dismantled in the West Bank are located behind the Separation Wall, and a most generous estimate of their number is five (Ghaneem, Kadiem, Homish, Wasah and Nour).829 The Gaza disengagement plan, therefore, meant the legitimatization of Israel’s de facto annexation of most of the West Bank settlements (the annexation of at least 136 out of 141 settlements) under the illusion of compromising so much of Israel's interests by evacuating the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Most importantly, the plan meant an Israeli declaration of the Road Map’s collapse and the end of any principled peace settlement with Palestinians based on UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 194, confirming the Palestinian rights to form a state in WBGS (including East Jerusalem), to return of refugees and to self-determination. This was, and still is, the PA’s nightmare. However, the PA was in no position to oppose the disengagement plan on principle because so doing would pit the PA against an Israeli withdrawal from a Palestinian territory.

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The PA, therefore, declared a conditional acceptance of the plan. The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the PA asserted, would have to take place simultaneously with withdrawals from the West Bank in accordance with the Road Map and in a manner that would not compromise the formation of a Palestinian state in WBGS (including East Jerusalem) at some future time. This, the PA continued, would have to take place in full co-ordination with the concerned parties (including the PA, Israel and the Quartet members). In March 2004, Arafat put it this way:

“We welcome any simultaneous Israeli withdrawal from any part of our land. I mean from Gaza and the West Bank. … To reach a full withdrawal from all our territories… the withdrawal should be through talks between the two parties and the framework of the Road Map.”830

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Of course, Sharon was unprepared to listen to Arafat or to respond to his demand to revive the peace talks according to the Road Map. What concerned Sharon was how to eliminate Hamas' military and civil infrastructure and to weaken its capacity to take part in the administration of Gaza after the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers. Sharon’s concern was stimulated by Hamas welcoming his plan as a product of the intifada. Hamas was of the opinion that the PA should not coordinate the withdrawal with Israel and let Israeli soldiers leave Gaza as if they were “escaping” it. Hamas was ready to take part in the administration of the Gaza Strip on an equal footing with other factions under the slogan of “partners in blood, partners in decision”. Hamas wanted a nation-wide leadership to adopt a political program seeking the liberation of the remaining parts of Palestine through “armed struggle”.831

This position, interpreted by Sharon as a new Hamas threat to escalate its military operations against Israeli forces in Gaza, coupled with the absence of any Palestinian leader capable of cracking down on Hamas, prompted the Israeli government to escalate the “all-out-war” on Hamas. As Israeli Deputy Minister Ihud Olmert pointed out: “We decided it was no use waiting for the Palestinians to implement the vision of President Bush and the Road Map. Time is of the essence. The status quo needs to be changed and we are ready to do this.”832

On 22 March 2004, therefore, the Israeli occupying forces assassinated the disabled Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Hamas' founder and spiritual leader. Yassin's assassination dealt the hardest blow to Hamas since its foundation in 1989, and the act earned strong condemnation from most of the international community, including the UN.833 After less than a month, on 17 April, Hamas suffered a second loss with the assassination of Dr. Abdel Aziz Al Rantisi, Yassin’s successor.834 In carrying out these extrajudicial killings, Israel was encouraged by the Bush administration, which vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the assassination of Yassin and calling a halt to “all attacks against any civilians as well as all acts of violence and destruction”, on 25 March 2004.835

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The extrajudicial killings of Hamas leaders accompanied a serious escalation in Israeli incursions into cities, towns and camps in the Gaza Strip, under the pretext of combating the "terrorist infrastructure”. In March 2004, Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopters raided al-Bureij and Nusseirat in central Gaza Strip to destroy the military formations of these refugee camps. Described as a "pinpoint” operation by the Israeli army, the raids left 14 Palestinians including an eight-year-old boy dead.836

Most notably was the May raid of Israeli forces into Rafah city under the pretext of closing the smuggling tunnels that run from Egypt under the border controlled by Israel. Located in the south of the Gaza Strip and described as the most violent area of the territories, Rafah is adjacent to the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. The estimated length of this border is 12.5 km, four of which run alongside the city. Since the outbreak of the intifada, Palestinian militants and Israeli forces have regularly exchanged fire at various points along the border. Because of that, nearly two thirds of the homes demolished by the Israeli occupation forces since the outbreak of the intifada (estimated at 2,500) have been in Rafah.837

In addition, almost every house at the southern edge of the city is pockmarked by heavy machine gun, tank or rocket fire. Continuously, Israel claims that these houses are used by Palestinian militants as hiding places to construct tunnels for smuggling small arms and explosives. Under this pretext, the Israeli occupying forces launched one of the largest and bloodiest operations in the Gaza Strip since Israel occupied it in 1967. Operation Rainbow started on 12 May and lasted until 24 May, resulting in 298 demolished homes and 47 Palestinians killed eleven of whom were children.838

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Of the 47 dead, a dozen or so were killed within no more than a few minutes, and dozens more injured when an Israeli helicopter dropped a bombshell among hundreds of demonstrators who were marching down the main street of Rafah toward Tal El-Sultan neighbourhood (west of Rafah) where the Israeli raid was concentrated in the first days of the operation.839 Israeli shelling of the peaceful Palestinian demonstration prompted John Dugard, UN Special Rapporteur to the OPT, to describe the operation as “war crimes amounting to collective punishment.”840

Dugard's words reveal Israel’s failure to balance its interests as an occupying power against the protection of the civilian population. While Israel, as the occupying power, has the rights to defend itself, to close smuggling tunnels and to take measures to avoid further attacks, its exercise of these rights must not affect the right of civilians to life and property. The shelling of the peaceful demonstration, coupled with the wide-scale destruction of homes, suggests that the operation was a measure of collective punishment against civilians to avenge the killing of five Israeli soldiers by Islamic Jihad militants at the border on 12 May 2004.841

More importantly, they suggest that the operation did not seek to protect soldiers at the borders or to close smuggling tunnels, but to widen the buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and Egypt in a manner that would tighten Israel’s control over the southern border of the Gaza Strip. This would ensure total Israeli control over all the borders of Gaza since Israel already controlled the northern borders of Gaza through the Erez fence. As Human Rights Watch concluded:

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“The pattern of destruction … is consistent with the goal of having a wide and empty border area to facilitate long-term control over the Gaza Strip. Such a goal would entail the wholesale destruction of the neighbourhood, regardless of whether homes in them pose a specific threat to the IDF, and would greatly exceed the IDF’s security need”842

This is how Sharon understands the Gaza disengagement plan. For him, the plan does not mean the dismantling of the Gaza Strip settlements while leaving Palestinians in control of the borders. Rather, it means Israeli control over borders and external security, notwithstanding the evacuation of the Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces will keep their fortifications on the borders between Egypt and the Gaza strip and, thereby, control the movement of Gazans to the outside world. In other words, Sharon seeks to besiege Palestinians within the boundaries of the Gaza Strip while simultaneously keeping his forces ready to invade any Gazan area when the occasion arises. Sharon admitted as much when he asserted in his plan “the right of Israel … to take preventive measures and to act against any Gaza Strip based threats.”843

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Sharon regularly described the plan as “hard concessions”, for which the Bush administration traded off Palestinian national aspirations for a state in WBGS with East Jerusalem as the capital, as was manifested in Bush's statements on 14 April 2004. The statements were delivered after a meeting between Bush and Sharon in the White House, during which the US administration endorsed Sharon's plan, accepted for the first time Israel's desire not to respect the pre-1967 borders, and backed Israel's opposition to the Palestinian right of return. Referring to the growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Bush pointed to “new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres.” Any final status agreement between Palestinians and Israelis, Bush continued, should “reflect these realities”.844 In connection to the right of return, Bush declared:

“It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugees issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settling of Palestinian refugees there rather than Israel.”845

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The boundaries of the Palestinian state, which was supposed to receive the Palestinian refugees according to Bush’s “just and fair” settlement, had already been delineated by the Separation Wall and covers at best no more than 42% of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the form of isolated cantons, with Israel controlling borders and external security. This means that the Palestinian cities, towns and villages of pre-1948 are out of the picture. Further, all of this implies an American adoption of the Israeli position opposing UN resolutions as a basis of any future settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League, declared: “This development is negative and extremely regrettable because it cancels all previous frameworks [for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict].”846 Among these frameworks was, of course, the Road Map which is considered by the EU states as the most appropriate formula to settle the conflict based on a two-state resolution. As Javier Solana, European Union Foreign Policy Chief, announced:

“The EU remains committed to a negotiated agreement resulting in two viable, sovereign and independent states as the only way to achieve permanent peace and an end to the occupation that began in 1967. … Final status issues can only be resolved by mutual agreement between the parties”.847

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For Palestinians, any peace settlement that does not ensure the end of the occupation and an independent Palestinian state over WBGS is a nightmare scenario. That is why the Palestinian daily of Al-Quds & Al-Ayyam commented on Bush statements as the “new Belfour Declaration [referring to November 1917’s British declaration supporting the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, see chapter II, Pp. 50-51] seeking to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”848 Qrieh considered Bush's statements as a clear indication of the biased policy of his administration: “We hope the US administration will not say anything that is considered a reward for a party or a side at the expense of the other side. Otherwise, there will be no peace.”849 Arafat went further and considered the statements as the “fatal bullet” to peace: “It means clearly the complete end of the peace process… It would lead to a cycle of violence and end all the signed agreements.”850

Nevertheless, Arab, European and Palestinian condemnations were not to influence the American policy built on the Thomas Hobbes principle of the “justice of power”, rather than the “power of justice”. This principle prompted Sharon to proudly declare Bush's statements an “unprecedented achievement in the history of Israel, and the most painful strike to Palestinians since Israel's inception in 1948.”851

The PA: Loosing Authority

Sharon’s success was not confined to the Bush administration’s endorsement of his wishes to circumscribe the Palestinian national aspirations within the boundaries of his disengagement plan, rather, it extended to include the international community’s endorsement of his wishes to consider Arafat’s regime as an illegitimate one. This was clearly embodied in the statements of Terje Roed Larsen, UN Special Envoy to the Middle East peace process, made in July 2004. In his briefing during a UN opening session, Larsen pointed to steadily emerging chaos in WBGS and accused Arafat of displaying a lack of will to reform the PA. In Larsen’s words;

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“The paralysis of the Palestinian Authority has become abundantly clear, and the deterioration of law and order in Palestinian areas is steadily worsening. … This collapse of authority cannot be attributed only to the Israeli incursions and operations inside Palestinian towns. The Palestinian Authority is in deep distress and is in real danger of collapse… Arafat has given only nominal and partial support to reform”852

Larsen’s statements alarmed the PA since they touched on fundamental issues related to the PA's future as the appropriate ruler of Palestinians, as well as the ultimate source of coercion in WBGS. Accordingly, PA officials quickly dismissed Larsen's statements and accused him of serving Sharon’s interests. “It is strange for him to play the role of the cheerleader, basically, of Mr. Sharon,” Nasser Al Kidwa, the Palestinian permanent observer to the UN, told reporters after attending the UN opening session.853

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Nevertheless, only a few days after Larsen’s statements, the PA suffered an unprecedented state of disorder that threatened its collapse just as Larsen predicted! On 16 July 2004, a militant group calling itself the Jenin Martyrs Brigades kidnapped Ghazi Al-Jabali, head of the PA civil police, and held him hostage in al-Bureij refugee camp for three hours before releasing him upon some PA officials’ mediation. The group was protesting what it called “the PA’s failure to combat corruption and to try all those accused of misuse of power and office among whom is Ghazi Al-Jabali.”

On the same day, masked Palestinian gunmen kidnapped five French civilians in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis and took them to the local Red Crescent headquarters where they ordered workers to leave. The masked gunmen released the French civilians after a few hours and demanded to be employed in the PA security apparatus. The kidnapping of the French civilians was the third incident of its kind, as other unidentified armed men kidnapped Khalid Abu Al Ulah, head of the southern office of the Israeli-Palestinian District Coordination and Cooperation Offices (DCOs), on the main road between Khan Younis and Rafah on the same day.854 In protest against this state of disorder, Rashid Abu Shbak, head of the Gaza Strip Preventive Security Forces, and Amin el-Hindi, Director General of General Intelligence, resigned their posts.855 The result was a stalemate for Arafat, exacerbated by Qrieh's resignation from the premiership in protest against the state of disorder.

Arafat dismissed the resignation of Qrieh, Abu Shbak, and El-Hindi. He decreed the unification of the Palestinian security forces into three: the civil police, public security (or, as it is commonly known, the National Security Force or Qwaat Al Amn Al Watani) and General Intelligence. Moreover, he dismissed Al-Jabali from his post and appointed Sae’b Al A’jz. In the meanwhile, he replaced Abdel El Raziq El-Majidah with Musa Arafat as head of public security. Musa Arafat remained at the head of military intelligence as well.856

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Though these measures partially contained the crisis, they prompted serious strife inside Arafat's party of Fatah. The strife centered around the appointment of Musa Arafat to the head of public security. While the young members of Fatah (mainly the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades) considered the appointment of Musa Arafat, described as a symbol of corruption and misuse of power by Palestinians, as a clear indication of Arafat’s reluctance to promote real reform, Arafat old guards considered it necessary to preserve Arafat’s authority. On 17 July 2004, thousands of Fatah supporters backed by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades marched toward PLC headquarters in Gaza City protesting the appointment of Musa Arafat, and calling on Arafat to bring an end to the chaos and to adopt real reformist measures.857

In a similar fashion, dozens of young militants marched through El Nusseirat camp in central Gaza chanting “No to Musa Arafat, yes to reform.” In Rafah, the situation was worse, as young militants exchanged fire with the guards at preventive security headquarters.858 No causalities were reported. However, the events left the future of Arafat’s party in real danger and constituted a serious challenge to Arafat’s capacity to preserve it. Paradoxically, the source of the challenge was not the opposition factions, most of which demanded immediate reformist measures,859 but, as we have seen, militants affiliated with Fatah.

Arafat quickly re-appointed El-Majidah as head of public security, and with Prime Minister Qrieh, set up a ministerial committee to investigate the reasons for the disorder.860 However, the committee never conducted any investigation. On 21 July, Nabile Amr, a PLC member, was shot in the foot with two bullets by unidentified armed men.861 The attack on Amr added further ambiguity to the identity of the persons behind the disorder.

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Palestinians believed Israel stood to benefit most from the internal Palestinian chaos and, therefore, blamed it for the recent events. In support of their accusations, Palestinians pointed to certain Israeli officials' remarks on Gaza events. Such as Sharon’s considering the events as “other evidence of [his] contention that Israel lacks a real peace partner.” Some Israeli ministers considered the events as the product of Arafat’s continued control over security forces and financial resources. In the words of Silvan Shalom, Israeli Foreign Minister, “when Arafat’s security and financial authority is confiscated from him, there will be order.”862

These events, Palestinians believed, were intended to end Arafat rule in a manner that would enable Israel to proceed with its unilateral steps. Assuming this analysis to be true, Palestinians failed to see the other side of the coin. The longer Arafat remained in power, the more Israel would be justified not to go along with the Road Map. In this sense, Israel was unwilling to remove Arafat, but willing to weaken his capacity to influence the rules of the game. Only this would enable it to refrain from pursuing the Road Map and to proceed unilaterally.

The means to achieve Israel's goal, it could be concluded, was the promotion of insecurity, but it would have to take place under the pretext of reform. Only this would ensure further international support for Israeli unilateral steps while leaving the impression that the events were a Palestinian-Palestinian strife reflecting the PA's failure to rule. Against this background, the attack on Amr must be examined. Bearing in mind that Amr served as a minister in Abbas’ cabinet and was a member of a committee formed to report, on 21 July 2004, to the PLC on the failure of Qrieh's government to keep order and combat corruption,863 the attack on Amr was intended to give the impression that it and the other events were the violent manifestation of the strife between the conservative doctrine (Arafat doctrine) and the reformist doctrine (Abbas doctrine).

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Ironically, Palestinians themselves believed this story when they accused Dahaln of cooperating with Israel in engineering the events. Palestinian accusations against Dahaln were prompted by the fact that Dahaln was one of the few Palestinian political figures to win Israel's favour and to build a power centre beyond Arafat's reach. In this sense, Palestinians asserted, Dahaln was objectively qualified to engineer the events. Add to that the fact that Dahaln had served in Abbas' cabinet and was a supporter of reform, it is possible to conclude that Dahaln was subjectively qualified to engineer the events as well.

However, this conclusion does not mean Dahaln actually participated in the events or promoted them. Dahaln ruled out violence from his methodology, asserting that Arafat was the representative of Palestinians, notwithstanding Dahaln’s demands to implement the PLC document of reform of 2002, to reorganize the security forces, to ratify PLC laws, and to initiate elections for the Fatah central committee in order for the young generation to assume a leading role in the party.864

Whoever engineered them, the events proved that the PA was in a serious crisis and that reform was urgently needed. Under this pressure, Arafat agreed to cooperate with the parliamentary committee (formed on 22 July 2004) to implement the PLC plan of reform of 2002.865 Meanwhile, Arafat endorsed Qrieh’s demand to enjoy real authority over the three security forces, which legally were under the minister of interior’s control (the Preventive Security Forces, Emergency Services and Rescue, and Civil Police). The Qrieh government adopted a series of re-appointments within these forces as a first step to implementing the security plan envisaged by Al A’jz to improve the performance of the PA security forces.866 This step was followed by the deployment of the Palestinian police to the various towns and cities of WBGS.867 However, the regular Israeli incursions into Palestinian towns and cities restricted the forces' efforts to keep order.

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On 18 August 2004, Arafat delivered an unprecedented speech before the PLC, including a comprehensive assessment of the PA's achievements and failures since its foundation in 1994. In his speech, Arafat pointed to the “Israeli aggressive war” against the Palestinians and their institutions, beginning with Israel's failure to implement the political accords signed with the Palestinians and culminating in the Israeli re-occupation of Palestinian cities and towns during the intifada. The war reached its peak, Arafat asserted, with the construction of the Separation Wall to consume around 58% of the West Bank, the regular incursions into Palestinian towns and cities, and the shelling of Palestinian security forces and institutions. All of this, Arafat explained, weakened the capacity of PA institutions to work in an effective manner, and “produced a security vacuum in several areas … and, hence, promoted chaos and security anarchy, thereby stifling the emergence of the rule of law.”868

Nevertheless, Arafat admitted the PA's role in stifling the rule of law and the PA institutions' weak performance when he asserted “the unacceptable and incorrect practices of some institutions. Some misused their office … and only a little support was given to the rule of law, independence of judiciary, and principles of accountability.”869 To deal with the crisis, Arafat called for immediate presidential and parliamentary elections, a number of laws to organize the work of the security forces and to promote financial transparency, and the full empowerment of the Attorney General to follow up all issues related to the misuse of public office and of funds. Most notable was Arafat’s announcement of his readiness for accountability by the PLC, by a parliamentary committee, or by any other Palestinian body. 870

Arafat initiated a comprehensive reform plan, affecting the political system, judiciary, security institutions and bureaucracy. Arafat’s reform plan was inspired mainly by the 2002 PLC reform plan,871 and, in this sense, Arafat’s plan was a PLC plan. This was the first time Arafat adopted a PLC plan or resolution, which may denote Arafat's readiness to accept real reforms and thereby to yield significant power.

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The following developments on the ground may support this analysis. In the same month as Arafat's speech, Ali Al Jarbawi, Executive Director of the Central Elections Commission, announced the start of the registration period for the second presidential and parliamentary elections on 4 September 2004. Around 1.8 million Palestinians, Al Jarbawi noted, were expected to register as eligible voters during the registration period which lasted up until 7 October of the same year.

To this end, Al Jarbawi added, at least 1009 registration stations were founded to enable Palestinians of WBGS (including East Jerusalem) to register for the elections that were to be held according to the 1995 Electoral Law (see chapter IV). 80% of the eligible voters, Al Jarbawi expected, would participate in the elections which needed some six months of preparation.872 In the period between 4 September and 7 October 2004, registration of eligible voters started, and thousands of Palestinians registered in the several registration stations in the various cities and towns of WBGS (including East Jerusalem).

However, the process was interrupted in some governorates like Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip where Israel launched a bloody military operation that lasted for around three weeks, leaving 125 Palestinians dead. Furthermore, some Palestinians of other governorates like Jerusalem, for example, were unable to reach the registration stations due to the Israeli imposition of roadblocks. This forced the Central Elections Commission to extend the registration period for another week upon a request by the PLC.873 In mid-October, the Central Electoral Commission announced the completion of the eligible voters’ registration. Nevertheless, no elections were held, mainly due to the sudden deterioration of Arafat’s health in late October 2004. Palestinians became deeply engrossed in the health developments of their long-time symbol and the man who transformed theirs from “a refugee cause” to “a national cause”.

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On 29 October, Arafat, said to require medical treatment for an intestinal flu, boarded a Jordanian helicopter and left his headquarters (Al-Muqatah) in Ramallah for the first time in more than two years (since March 2002). As he boarded the helicopter on his way to the Percy Hospital’s state-of-the-art hematology clinic in France, thousands of tearful Palestinians, bodyguards and officials chanted, using his nom de guerre: “We will sacrifice our blood and souls for you, Abu Ammar” and “the mountain cannot be shaken by the wind”874 (one of Arafat's favourite sayings). These tearful Palestinians were disappointed on this occasion, as the mountain was shaken. Arafat departed on 11 November 2004.

After Arafat’s Departure

Arafat's death ended one of the most controversial eras in Palestinian history. It started with Arafat appearance in the late 1950s and his subsequent success of, together with Khalil El Wazir (assassinated by Israeli intelligence in April 1988), Salah Khalaf (assassinated in January 1991) and others, laying the foundation for the first modern Palestinian national movement, Fatah, the revised Arab acronym for the Palestinian national liberation movement and itself meaning “openness”. Fatah's founding occurred in the early 1960s, and preceded Arafat's and his colleagues’ success in dominating the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a national organization founded by the Arab states in 1964 to enable Palestinians to play their part in the liberation of their land.

After that, Arafat assumed the chairmanship of the PLO executive committee, and managed to flee with the PLO away from Arab tutelage and to gather all Palestinians with their various ideological affiliations under the PLO banner, armed struggle being its only instrument to liberate Palestine. However, with the outbreak of the third Arab-Israeli war in 1973, and the subsequent American and Soviet pressure to convene an international peace conference to settle the conflict, Arafat introduced his peace initiative known as the “ten points plan”, which sought to establish a Palestinian Authority on any part of Palestine.

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Arafat’s peace initiative enabled him to get, in 1974, the Arab states and the UN General Assembly to endorse the PLO’s claim to be the sole representative of Palestinians, and the right of Palestinians to self-determination. This was an unprecedented political achievement for Arafat and his organization, as it transformed the Palestinian cause from a cause of refugees to a cause of nationhood. However, this achievement prompted Israel to invade Lebanon in 1982 with the aim of destroying the PLO military and civil infrastructures, which were rebuilt there after the PLO’s expulsion from Jordan following the Palestinian-Jordanian civil war of the early 1970s.

With the semi-destruction of his organization’s military and civil infrastructures in Lebanon, Arafat set up his headquarters in Tunisia before the breakout of the first intifada, which enabled him and his organization to participate (within the context of a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation) in the Madrid Peace Conference initiated by the Americans on 30 October 1991. However, the right-wing Israeli government in power at that time rendered this conference largely unproductive. With the rise of Yitzak Rabin to the Israeli premiership in 1992, new windows of peace opened, and Arafat initiated with Rabin the Oslo backchannel to sign the Declaration of Principles in 1993.

The Declaration of Principles and the subsequent Cairo agreement (or Gaza-Jericho Agreement) gave rise to the first Palestinian authority on a Palestinian territory in May 1994. The PA was empowered with authority over civil matters, and all issues relating to sovereignty and external security remained under Israeli control. In July 1994, Arafat returned to the territories for the first time in five decades. He assumed the PA chairmanship before being formally elected to the post in 1996 after the extension of PA civil control to 27% of West Bank and 60% of the Gaza Strip.

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Nevertheless, Arafat was asked to go through bitter rounds of negotiations with the Israeli government to realize the Palestinian aspirations of self-determination and return, culminating in the unproductive Camp David II. Its failure turned the clock back to the days of antagonism that distinguished Israeli-Palestinian relations before 1993. This fact was manifested by the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada in 2000 and by the subsequent obstruction - or collapse - of peace. Arafat, thus, was besieged in his compound in Ramallah, and the resistance of his people was labelled with terror, before his authority being subjected to unprecedented pressure to reform itself.

As we have seen, Arafat was labelled as a terrorist and was pressured to yield his authority to a strong prime minister as a precondition to the revival of peace. Between the pressure of his enemies to yield his authority and the pressure of his people to realize their national aspirations, Arafat managed; it should be admitted, to play the game and to remain the unchallenged leader and symbol of the Palestinian nation until he was formally pronounced dead on 11 November 2004.

Like any other leader, Arafat had successes, as well as failures. Among his most notable successes was the momentum the Palestinian cause gained during his time, as manifested in the UN General Assembly resolutions providing for the rights of Palestinians to self-determination and to an independent state. His other major achievement was his conversion of the first intifada into the creation of the PA, the first Palestinian authority in history. Through the first intifada, Arafat managed to gain Israel’s formal recognition of the Palestinian national existence and, thus, to transform the issue of the Palestinian entity from the realms of theoretical possibility into an empirical reality.

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The PA formed the first building blocks of a future Palestinian state, creating Para-state institutions like the cabinet, legislative body and security institutions. Though Arafat sought to evolve this authority into a state with its derivative attributes, including a monopoly on coercion and the ability to issue binding rules, certain political reasons (as we have seen in chapter III) hampered Arafat's attempts to do so.

In his endeavors to evolve his authority into a state (in terms of monopolizing coercion and issuing binding rules), Arafat was restrained by the conditions of interim accords signed with Israel, conditions that prompted several mistakes on Arafat's part. Prompted by the possible threat of his opponents (mainly Hamas and Islamic Jihad), Arafat concentrated power into his hand and into the few around him whom he trusted. The majority of the population was denied access to effective political participation in a manner that hindered the emergence of a democratic political system based on the principles of separation of powers, accountability, transparency, and the rule of law.

In addition, Arafat hindered the emergence of a professional bureaucratic system and tended instead to enlarge and overstaff the PA civil and security apparatus with the aim of gaining people’s loyalty. In other words, Arafat politicized the bureaucracy and, hence, diverted it from its intended purpose (the welfare of Palestinians).

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Nevertheless, Palestinians tolerated Arafat's internal mistakes, particularly in light of his position in Camp David II when he refused to yield their national aspirations. Though this position might be perceived by some as irrational in that it deprived Palestinians of a historical opportunity to achieve their state,878 Palestinians considered it a most patriotic stance and, thus, considered Arafat the most conceivable leader, with more than 26% of Palestinians trusting him the most in comparison to 1.7-11.2% trusting other public figures (like Ahmad Yassin, Hamas founder; Ahmad Sa’adat, Secretary General of the PFLP; and others) in October 2003.879

Anyone who witnessed the hundreds of thousands of tearful Palestinians who gathered in Arafat's compound awaiting the arrival of his body on 12 November 2004 would understand what Arafat meant to them. Simply put, Arafat embodied the Palestinians' national aspirations for an independent state, self-determination and return, which aspirations he never yielded to Israel. Eventually, these tearful Palestinians moved their sadness aside to show outstanding skill in dealing with the legal implications of their historical leader’s departure.

As was mentioned in chapter IV (P. 190), the PLC Speaker is supposed to replace an incapacitated PA president for a period not exceeding 60 days, during which free presidential elections are to be held. Accordingly, Rohi Fatoh, PLC Speaker since 10 March 2004,880 took over the PA chairmanship before scheduling presidential elections for 9 January 2005. On 25 December 2004, the Central Elections Commission initiated an electoral campaign scheduled for 25 December 2004 to 8 January 2005 (two weeks). Seven candidates competed for the PA chairmanship: Mohammoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Fatah candidate; Taysser Khalid, DFLP candidate; Bassam El Salihi, People Party candidate; and Mustafa El Barghuti, Al-Sayyad Barakah, Abdel Halim Al Ashqar and Abdel Karim Shbeer, all independent candidates.881

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The favorite to win was Abbas, the candidate for the largest Palestinian party (Fatah) and the one who strongly reappeared onto the political scene as Arafat’s successor to the head of the PLO executive committee. However, Abbas did not win without a real challenge from El Barghuti. Over the course of the Al-Aqsa intifada, El Barghuti had been deeply involved in defending Palestinian human rights and had succeeded in recruiting considerable international opposition to the Separation Wall.

Both Abbas and El Barghuti appeared to adopt the same political program in their campaigns’ main slogans. While Abbas promised “to end the occupation”, to achieve security for citizens and to reform and develop PA institutions, El-Barghuti demanded that electors “leave the Palestinian cause in clean and honest hands.”882 In this sense, El Barghuti called on Palestinians to elect a leader who would realize their national aspirations and build viable government institutions. Both men thus sought to realize the same goal. However, El Barghuti considered Abbas an old guard of the PLO and called for the young generation to have access to top political posts.

Aside from El Barghuti, Abbas faced little challenge from other candidates, most of whom were unknowns. Most importantly, Abbas did not face any real challenge from the Oslo opponents (Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP), all of which boycotted the elections for the same reasons they boycotted the 1996 elections (see chapter IV). On the eve of the elections, 1,282,524 Palestinians were registered by the Central Elections Commission, constituting 71% of eligible voters (estimated at 1.8 million). Registered voters were able to vote at any one of 1074 polling stations distributed between the sixteen governorates of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. They were asked to elect the PA president from among the above-mentioned candidates. Some 22,632 observers monitored the elections process. Of these were 7,142 local observers representing 201 local institutions and commissions, 12,448 observers representing 13 partisan commissions, 2,242 observers representing the independent candidates, and 800 international observers representing 58 international organizations.883

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Only 775,146 of registered voters actually voted (60% of the registered voters and only 43% of eligible voters). The low turnout was due mainly to Israeli roadblocks that prevented many voters from reaching polling stations. In Jerusalem, for example, only 26,365 Palestinians could vote out of the 120,000 registered.884 Abu Mazen earned 62.23% of the votes. Following Abu Mazen was El-Barghuti with 19.08%, Al-Sayyad Barakah with 3.97%, Taysser Khalid with 3.05%, Bassam El Salihi with 2.96%, Abdel Halim Al Ashqar with 2.86%, and Abdel Karim Shbeer with 0.67%.885

Abbas' win was welcomed. Bush, who had severed contact with Arafat, declared that he was prepared to meet Abbas: “I look forward to welcoming him here if he chooses to come.” Shimon Peres, Israeli Labor Party leader, considered Abbas “a moderate man, an intelligent man, an experienced man. … There is legitimate Palestinian leadership whose leader is definitely against terror and war.” Even Sharon welcomed Abbas' win: “His declaration of the framework of the election campaign was encouraging.”886 Sharon also commented on Abbas' pre-election comments in which he called for the halt of the use of weapons and the disarming of the intifada: “The use of weapons is harmful, and it should stop. It is important to keep the uprising away from arms because the uprising is a legitimate right of people to express their rejection of the occupation by popular and social means.”887 Hence, Abbas, in the concerned parties’ eyes, embodied a different strategy from that of Arafat. The essence of this strategy was the dismissal of violence in favour of peace negotiations and peaceful protests to realize Palestinian national aspirations.

In the eyes of Palestinians, Abbas embodies a new era with a functioning democracy. As Ziad Abu Amr, a PLC member and a close ally of Abbas, pointed out: “It could be the beginning of a new era. We may be laying the foundation for the second working democracy in the Middle East.”888 Of course, Abu Amr was referring to Israel, which always calls itself the region’s only democracy. In fact, the Palestinians' success in smoothly and legally transferring power to Abbas enables them to proudly claim that they are the first Arab people to elect two leaders (Arafat and Abbas) within no more than nine years.

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Palestinian moves towards democratic transformation did not stop there. In December 2004, Palestinians began the first local elections in nearly three decades (as we mentioned in chapter II, the last local elections were organized in the West Bank in 1976). These elections, the preparation of which had began in July 2003,889 are organized into four rounds covering the estimated 600 local commissions of WBGS, and are to be completed by the end of 2005. The first round of elections was organized in the West Bank on 23 December 2004 and in the Gaza Strip on 27 January 2005. The round covered 26 villages and towns in the West Bank, and 10 in the Gaza Strip.890 The decision to organize the round in the Gaza Strip one month after the West Bank round was due to the Israeli incursions into the Gaza Strip which made it difficult for Palestinians to organize simultaneous rounds in both areas.

In the West Bank, more than 81% of eligible voters (eligible voters were estimated at 144,000) voted for 886 candidates who sought the 306 seats of 26 local councils.891 The highest turnout was recorded in Kafr Al Lobed, with more than 95% of the village’s eligible voters actually voting. The lowest turnout was recorded in Dier Daboon, with a participation rate of no more than 44%. Women showed unprecedented participation, with a rate estimated at more than 79% as against 22% for men. Furthermore, at least 17% of the seats went to women.892

In Gaza, nearly 60,500 Palestinians turned out at 167 electoral boxes distributed between ten polling stations; with a turnout rate of 72% (registered voters were estimated at 83,700). These Palestinians elected 118 councillors out of 414 candidates (68 candidates were women) for ten local councils. The highest rate of participation was recorded in El Musadir, with a turnout rate of 96%, while the lowest participation was recorded in Dier El Balah with a turnout rate of 77%. Female participation was notable, with a turnout rate of 50%, and no less than 20 seats (approximately 17%) went to women.893

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Perhaps the most notable aspect of these elections was Hamas' participation in clear contradiction to its boycott of the presidential elections. Its participation reveals the growing divide in Hamas insofar as the party's attitude towards the peace process is concerned. This divide may explain why Hamas did not participate in the presidential elections but did take part in the local elections. Arguably, Hamas may have used the local elections to test its popularity and to decide whether it ought to proceed with its “moderate policy” seeking a share of power.

Running in the elections as the “Islamic Reform Bloc” in the West Bank and as the “Reform and Change Bloc” in the Gaza Strip, Hamas did well against Fatah, which ran as the “Bloc of Arafat, the Martyr”. In the West Bank, nearly 91 seats or 30% of seats went to Hamas members and supporters, as against 153 seats or 50% that went to Fatah members and supporters. The remaining seats went to independents. In some areas, Hamas enjoyed sweeping victories. For example, Hamas won ten out of 11 seats in El-Shiyoukh near Hebron. Furthermore, Hamas was expected to have representation on twelve of the 26 local councils.894

By comparison, Hamas enjoyed an even bigger victory in the Gaza Strip, with no less than 77 seats or 65% of the 118. 37 seats went to Fatah, three to independents and one to PFLP. As a result, Hamas dominates seven local councils, leaving only three for Fatah.895 Hamas' sweeping victory in the Gaza Strip is explained by the fact that the Gaza Strip is considered the “Home of Hamas”. Hamas was born and raised in the Gaza Strip, and many of its top leaders (Ahmad Yassin, Abdel Aziz Al-Rantisi and others) settled there. Thus, it should not be surprising that Hamas won 13 out of 14 seats on the Dier El Balah local council as against one for Fatah; 11 out of 13 seats on the Zawaidalocal council as against two for Fatah; 12 out of 13 seats on the Bani Suhlialocal council as against one seat for an independent; 11 out of 13 seats on the Beit Hanoun local council as against one seat each for PFLP and for an independent; nine out of 11 seats on the Al-Nasser local council (in Rafah) as against two for Fatah; nine seats out of 11 on the Al-Shoka local council (in Rafah) as against two for Fatah; and seven out of 11 seats on the Kheza’a local council as against three for Fatah and one for an independent. However, Fatah dominated the following local councils: El Zahrah, with seven seats as against two for Hamas; Al-Maghazi, with 10 seats as against three seats for Hamas; and El Musadir,with all nine seats.896

↓385

Hamas' electoral success is a clear indication of its growing constituencies of support. This may encourage its leaders to seek to share power and to cease boycotting the formal state institutions. Hamas' positive attitude towards the legislative elections scheduled for 17 July 2005 suggests that Hamas is so inclined.897

Nevertheless, Hamas' newly emerged moderate attitude remains conditioned on the ability of the newly-elected PA President Abbas to halt Israeli measures against Palestinians: the extrajudicial killings, the closure, the road blocks, the incursions into Palestinian cities and towns, and so forth. Only this will enable Abbas to conclude a cease-fire agreement with Hamas and other Palestinian factions like Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and to halt these factions’ attacks against Israeli targets, like the January 2005 attack at Karni crossing (the main crossing for goods and supplies into the Gaza Strip) which left six Israelis dead.898

It must be emphasized that Abbas’ success in halting Israeli measures against Palestinians will not ensure him a lasting cessation of these factions’ attacks against Israeli targets. Abbas must hurry to conclude a final status peace settlement, ensuring the realisation of the Palestinian aspiration for an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. This would enable Abbas not only to halt violence but to evolve his authority into a state with all its derivative attributes, including the capacity to issue binding rules and to monopolise coercion.899

↓386

Of course, Abbas is not going to succeed if he is abandoned. The international community must take its moral and legal responsibility and pressure Israel to comply with the UN General Assembly resolutions providing for a Palestinian state over WBGS with East Jerusalem as its capital. It is said that the international community learned from the bitter experience of the Oslo process and became aware of the negative ramifications of any settlement not based on international law. Among these negative ramifications is the four-year bloodshed of the Al-Aqsa intifada- a bloodshed that seems most likely to renew itself if a real peace based on justice and fairness does not prevail in the future.


Footnotes and Endnotes

736  PCBS. Statistical Abstract, op.cit., P.189.

737  Excerpts of the reprot were published by the London-based daily of Al-Hayat on 31 July 2004.

738  MoH. Health Status, op.cit., P. 111.

739  Cobban, op.cit., P.55.

740  the London-based daily of Al-Hayat on 31 July 2004.

741  Source: the official webpage of the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs <http://www.mofa.gov.ps/Statistics/index.asp>

742  Marwan Bishara. Palestine/Israel: Peace or Apartheid. London & New York: Zed Books, 2001, P.35.

743  Ibid., Pp35-36.

744  Ibid., Pp.36-42.

745  For these resolutions see George J. Tomeh (ed.). United Nations Resolutions on Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1975.

746  B’Tselem. Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank. Jerusalem: B’Tselem, May 2002, P.12. Can be found <http://www.btselem.org/english/Publications/Summaries/land-Grab-2002.asp>

747  Fmep. Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories: A Guide. Fmep, A special Report of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, March 2002, Online <http://www.fmep.org/org/reports/2002/sr0203.html>

748  Lev Grinberg. “The Arrogance of Occupation”. In Middle East Policy. Vol. IX, no.1, March 2002, P.47.

749  Quoted in Graham Usher. “Moving Toward a Cease-Fire?” In Middle East International. No. 713, 21 November 2003, P.12.

750  The full text of President Bush’s Speech of 24 June 2002 can be found on < http://www.usembassy-israel.org.il>

751  Ibid.

752  E’Alan Sadir An El Majlis El Tashri’e Li Tatweer wa Islah Moasasat El Sultah El Watanya El Filistinya (A declaration published by the PLC to reform and develop the Palestinian National Authority Institutions). Palestine: PLC, 16 May 2002. An English translation of the same document can be found <http://www.aman-palestine.org>

753  For the “100 days plan of the Palestinian government” see <http://www.aman-palestine.org>

754  For civil society vision of reform see Ibid.

757  Graham Usher. “Israel, Arafat, and the US occupation”. In Middle East International. No. 711, 24 October 2003, P.11.

758  Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 11, 12, 14 July 2000.

759  Ibid, on 21 July 2000.

760  Ibid., on 22/23 July 2000.

761  Grinberg op.cit., Pp.47-51.

762  The Sharm El Sheikh summit, convened under US auspice, searched for possible means to halt violence immediately. The summit proposed a “fact-finding committee” to investigate the reason for the unrest. The committee concluded its report on 30 April 2001. The report, known also as Mitchell Report (after the name of the committee’s head), called for an immediate halt of violence, and resumption of security cooperation. The same applied to the Tenet Plan (George Tenet was the CIA director) which calls for the immediate cessation of violence, and the resumption of security cooperation. For Mitchael Report and Tenet Plan see <http://www.al-bab.com/arab/docs/pal>

763  The full text of the initiative is cited in Middle East Policy. Vol. IX, no.2, June 2002, Pp.25-26.

764  The full text of the “Road Map” Plan is cited on <http://www.al-bab.com/arab/docs/pal/roadmap2003.htm>

765  Al-Ayyam & Al Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 15 February 2003.

766  The amendments of the Basic Law were published by Al-Ayyam on 8, 10 March, Al-Hayat A -Jadeeda & Al Quds on 11 March 2003.

767  Al-Ayyam on 19 March 2003.

768  See for example Al-Ayyam daily’s interview with Abbas on 16 February 2003.

769  Al-Ayyam, and Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 31 March 2003.

770  Al-Ayyam on 14 April 2003.

771  For the structure of Abbas government see Ibid & Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 23 April 2003. See also the Presidential Decree no.7 for 2003 with relation to the government on 29 April 2003. In Al Waqaea’. The formal gazette of PA, 10th year, no.46, 16/8/2003.

772  Al-Ayyam & Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 30 April 2003.

773  Al-Hayyat on 19 July 2003.

774  Al-Ayyam on 7 July 2003.

775  Fayyad Profile is cited on the official wepbage of PA <http://www.pna.gov.ps>

777  Al-Ayyam & Al-Quds on 13 April 2003.

778  See Al-Quds on 22 June 2003.

779  Al-Ayyam, Al-Quds, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 8 July 2003.

780  Interview with Farid Ghanam, Director-General of Public Finance. Gaza: Ministry of Finance, 15 September 2004.

781  Ibid.

782  The Petroleum General Commission, for instance, used to impose fees of 20% on fuel imported to Gaza Strip, and 30% on fuel imported to West Bank. See Al-Ayyam, Al-Quds, and Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, on 16 July 2003.

783  Al-Quds on 11 August 2003.

784  Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 11 August 2003.

785  Spot interview with some Palestinian graduates, Gaza: before the Minsitry of Finance headquarter, 15 September 2004.

786  See JMCC’s poll no.48, April 2003. Online <http://www.jmcc.org>

787  See Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 8,14 March & Al-Ayyam on 1 April 2003.

788  Quoted in Usher. “Israel, Arafat, and the US occupation”, op.cit, P.11.

789  See Al-Risalah on 24 July 2003.

790  Al-Ayyam on 28 August 2003.

791  Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 31 August 2003.

792  Graham Usher. “Dead End”. In Middle East International. No. 708, 12 September 2003.

793  Al-Ayyam, Al-Quds, & Al-Hayat Al Jadeeda on 7 September 2003

794  David Makovsky. “How to Build A Fence”. Online http://www.washingtoninstitue.org/media/makovsky/makovsky020504.pdf. From March/April 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs.

795  Ibid.

796  Ibid.

797  Peter Lagerquist. “Fencing the Last Sky: Excavating Palestine After Israel’s “Separation Wall”. In Journal of Palestine Studies. Vol. XXXIII, No.2 (Winter 2004), Pp.6-7.

798  Ibid., P.7

799  Ibid., Pp.7-8.

800  According Al-Haq institute for Human Rights <http://www.alhaq.org/alhaq_1.htm>

801  Noam Chomsky. “A Wall as a Weapon”. Online http://www.palestinemonitor.org./Special%20Section/Closure/wall_as_weapon.htm from 23 February, 2004 New York Times.

802  Lagerquist op.cit., P.13.

803  Figures from <http://www.palestinehistory.com/wall.htm>

804  Graham Usher. “The End of the Road”. In Middle East Internatonal. No.716, 9 January 2004.

805  Grahama Usher. “Advantage of Sharon”. In Ibid. No. 715, 19 December 2003..

806  Khalid Amayreh. “State of Emergency”. In Ibid., No. 710, 10 October 2003.

807  Al-Ayyam & Al-Hayat Al Jadeeda on 8, 9, 10 October 2003.

808  Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 9 September 2003.

809  Ibid on 12 September 2003.

810  Al-Ayyam on 8 September 2003.

811  Ibid, & Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 22 September 2003.

812  Ibid, & Al-Ayyam on 28 September

813  Al-Ayyam on 10 October 2003.

814  Ibid & Al-Hayat Al Jadeeda on 7 October 2003.

815  Ibid., on 8 October 2003.

816  Quoted in Graham Usher. “Israel, Arafat, and the US occupation”. In Middle East International. No. 711, 24 October 2003, P.11.

817  Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 13, 15 October, and Al-Quds on 14 October 2003.

818  Al-Ayyam & Al-Quds on 7 October 2003.

819  In December 2003, for example, Arafat would encourage Qrieh to resume dialogue with 12 Palestinian opposition factions (among which were Hamas and Islamic Jihad) gathered in Cairo. The dialogue ended with failure as no agreement was reached after these factions demanded clear guarantees ending the Israeli measures on the ground in return for a delcared cease-fire from their side. See Grahm Usher. “Advantage Sharon”. In Middle East International, No. 715, 19 December 2003.

820  Al-Ayyam on 4 November 2003.

821  Ibid & Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 5 November 2003.

822  Al-Ayyam on 10 November 2003.

823  The names of the 24 ministers of Qrieh government were published by Ibid & Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 10 November 2003.

824  Al-Ayyam on 10 November 2003

825  Ibid, Al Hayat Al Jadeeda, & Al-Quds on 13 November 2003.

826  The full text of the interview can be found <http://info.jpost.com/Coo3/Supplements/FSB/031017/art.01.htm>

827  AL-Ayyam on 12 December 2003.

828  The BBC on 4 February 2004 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3462461.stm>

829  According to the Sharon Plan published by Al-Quds daily on 17 April 2004.

830  Quoted in <http://customwire.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/ISRAEL_PALESTINIANS?SITE=DCTM…> from the Washington Times of 11 March 2004.

831  The position of Hamas toward the Gaza-disengagment plan was stated in a Hamas internal document dated on 23 May 2004. Arabic excerpts of this documents are cited on the official webpage of the pro-Hamas daily of Al-Watan <http://www.alwatanvoice.com>

832  Quoted in BBC on 22 March 2004. Online <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3556593>

833  The Palestine News Agency of “WAFA” on 23 March 2003. English Internet edition <http://english.wafa.ps/body.asp?field=tech_news&id>

834  Asharq Al-Awsat on 18 April 2004. Arabic internet edition <http://www.asharqalawsat.com/defaul.asp?issue=9273&page=front&article=229251>

835  Haaretz on 26 March 2004. English internet edition <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=408914&contrassID=1&su…>

836  The BBC on 7 March 2004. Online <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3540179.stm>

837  According to Human Right Watch (HRW) Report of “Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip”. May 2004, P.1, Online <http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/gaza>

838  Ibid, Pp.10-11.

839  According to BBC on 19 May 2004. Online <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3728681>

840  Ibid.

841  HRW “Razing Rafah”, op.cit., P.8.

842  Ibid, P.2.

843  The full text of Sharon Plan was published by Al-Quds daily on 17 April 2004.

844  The Times on 15 April 2004.

845  Ibid.

846  Financial Times on 16 April 2004.

847  Ibid.

848  Al-Ayyam on 15 April , & Al-Quds on 16 April 2004.

849  The Times on 15 April 2004.

850  Ibid.

851  According to Yediot Ahronot on 22 April 2004. Arabic Internet edition <http://www.arabynet.com/article.asp.?did=107462.EN>

852  Jerusalem Post on 14 July, 2004. English Internet Edition <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=108>

853  Ibid.

854  Al-Hayat Al Jadeeda & Al-Quds on 17 July 2004.

855  Ibid.

856  Al-Quds on 18 July 2004.

857  Ibid.

858  Lara Sukhtian. “Militants Burn Palestinian Offices”. Online <http://www.Israelforum.com/board/archive/index.php/t-5098.html>

859  On 17 July 2004, for example, Islamic Jihad and DFLP published pamphlets declaring their apposition to the security chaos, and calling for real and immediate reformist measures. On the followed day, PFLP published pamphlet to this effect.

860  Al-Ayyam on 20 July 2004.

861  Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 21 July 2004.

862  Al-Ayyam on 19 July 2004.

863  Al-Hayat AL-Jadeeda on 22 July 2004.

864  Al-Quds on 1 August 2004.

865  Al-Ayyam on 23 July 2004.

866  Ibid, & Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 3 August 2004.

867  Al-Ayyam on 8 August 2004.

868  The full text of Arafat speech was published by Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 19 August 2004.

869  Ibid.

870  Ibid.

871  The committee, headed by Abbas Zaki, a PLC member, and included other nine PLC members, submited it report to the PLC speical session held in Ramallah and Gaza in the period of 18-25 August 2004.

872  The London-Based daily of Al-Hayat on 18 August 2004.

873  Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 6 October 2004.

874  See Haaretz on 30 October 2004. English Internet edition <http://www.harretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/494992.html>

878  See for example Barry Rubin. “The Terror and the Pity: Yasir Arafat and the Second Loss of Palestine”. In Journal of Middle East Review of Internal Affairs (MERIA). Vol. 6, no.1 (March 2002). Internet edition <http://meria.idc.ac.il>

879  See GMCC Poll No.49, October , 2003. Online <http://www.jmcc.org>

880  Rohi Fatoh is a Fatah affiliated PLC member. As we have seen in chapter IV, he was the holder of the PLC secretary general post since the PLC inauguration in March 1996. Currently, he is the heir of Rafiq Al-Nitshah, the Fatah affiliated PLC member, and the holder of PLC speaker post after Qrieh resignation from this post to take over the premiership. See Al-Quds on 4 November 2003, & Al-Ayyam on 11 March 2004.

881  Al-Quds on 26 December 2004.

882  Ibid.

883  Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 9 January 2005.

884  Al-Ayyam on 11 January 2005.

885  Ibid.

886  Herald Tribune on 11 January 2005.

887  Abbas statements were published by Ibid, and the German Newspaper of “Der Tagesspiegel” on 15 December 2004.

888  Herald Tribune on 11 January 2005.

889  Al-Hayyat Al-Jadeeda on 16 July 2003.

890  Al-Ayyam on 21 December 2004.

891  Ibid on 22 and Al-Quds on 23 & 24 December 2004.

892  Al-Ayyam & Al Quds on 27 December 2004.

893  Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 28 & 29 January 2005.

894  Al-Ayyam on 25 & 27 December 2004.

895  Al-Quds on 29 January 2005.

896  Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda & Al-Quds on 29 January

897  Al-Quds & Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on 9 Janaury 2005.

898  See the BBC on 14 January 2005. Online <http://newswww.bbc.net.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4174687.stm>

899  Migdal. Strong Societies, op.cit., P.19.



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