Still dancing to Arafat's tune: in September Mahmoud Abbas resigned as Palestinian Prime Minister, despite strong support from Washington, to be replaced by Ahmed Qurei. But will this change in the PA leadership structure herald a change of direction?

Author:Shahin, Mariam

The "Israeli-American axis of persuasion by brute force and subversive measures" failed yet again to impose its will on the Palestinians as Yasser Arafat scored another internal victory while never leaving his besieged compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

America and Israel's choice of Palestinian leadership Mohammad Dahlan and Mahmoud Abbas came under severe attack and ultimately crumbled under the weight of internal Palestinian opposition. The two had to side-step angry crowds who labelled them American stooges for their Israeli-inspired agenda and urged them to follow the leadership of Arafat, only minutes before a confidence vote in parliament threatened to destabilise the American backed Road Map to Yonder. Abbas got the message and ultimately resigned, leaving a crack open for a return, but a very small crack.

The impasse in the Palestinian leadership arose from actions initially taken by Israel. When Israel decided it was not breaking the ceasefire by continually assassinating a series of Palestinian leaders, all of whom held considerable public support, the followers of the martyred struck back bloodying Israeli streets in a series of retaliatory "terrorist" attacks. Mohammad Dahlan, the US/Israeli backed security,' chief under Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), was asked to squash (quite literally) anyone refusing to comply with the ceasefire on the Palestinian side. No such action was forthcoming on the Israeli side; they happily continued assassinating people, both opponents and innocent bystanders.

Arafat came to the rescue and appointed a counter-intelligence chief, the formerly sacked and out of favour Jibril Rajoub. Rajoub, like Dahlan, a graduate of Israeli prisons, is also a thug, but he is Arafat's thug. If anyone would put the Palestinian house into order it would be Arafat, the old man decided, not the American appointed underling, Abu Mazen. The Palestinian street thoroughly approved.

If there would be internal oppression of Palestinians by Palestinians, it would be Arafat who would be in charge not the unpopular nobody from nowhere.

Ahmed Qurei, the speaker of the Palestinian house, who initially wanted to sidestep a public discussion, was eventually called on to take Abu Mazen's place.

Qurei is much more Arafa's man than the former ever was. He began his would be premiership with a challenge to the US and the international community by calling on them to keep the Israelis on the leash and adhere to any agreements.


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