Egypt tells Arafat to Bug Off
May. 31, 2004 20:36 | Updated Jun. 1, 2004 0:02
Egypt tells Arafat: Reform or be removed - report
By JOSEPH NASR
Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman has reportedly warned Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to relax his grip on the reins of Palestinian power or face the possibility that Egypt and the US will cease to block Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from carrying out his threat to "remove" the chairman.
According to a report Monday in the pan-Arab Al-Quds-al-Arabi, Suleiman handed Arafat three demands:
First, to unite all the Palestinian security forces under one command authority, and into three components. These include the police, the Preventative Security Service (equivalent of Israel's General Security Service), and the Palestinian foreign security service (equivalent of Israel's Mossad).
Secondly, give PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei complete authority to conduct negotiations with Israel over Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan.
Thirdly, stand aside and accept a symbolic position and let others lead the Palestinian Authority.
If these demands are not met, the Egyptian-American shield saving Arafat's life may be removed, Al-Quds-al-Arabi reported.
The Egyptian emissary, who last Monday shuttled between Jerusalem and Ramallah to discuss Egypt's role following a possible Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, warned Arafat that the suggested political and security reforms are necessary and will facilitate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's initiative.
Arafat was given a deadline of June 15 to give a decisive reply with regards to the suggestion or else his future will be "left in the hands of Ariel Sharon."
The newspaper reported that although the list of reforms was communicated by Egypt, it was drawn up in conjunction with the US and Israel.
A senior Palestinian official informed al-Quds al-Arabi that the US is eager to push forward a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinian to cover for the letdown of its policy in Iraq and improve its image in the Arab world.
The same official met with Arafat in Ramallah, where the PA chairman told him he intends to refuse the Egyptian demands, because their implementation means the end of his de facto leadership and his reduction to a purely symbolic figure, wrote al-Quds al-Arabi.
Egyptian newspaper: PA, factions to meet in Cairo to discuss ceasefire with Israel
Also Monday, the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram reported that PM Qurei will soon meet representatives of all Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Jihad, in order to discuss a consensual agreement over a ceasefire with Israel.
At the meeting, which will be held in Cairo, Qurei will notify Palestinian factions that an agreement over a ceasefire will require them to respect it and each violation of the agreement will be considered "illegal."
Under such agreement, the PA holds the right to take "appropriate actions" against the factions who breach the agreement by perpetrating violent attacks against Israel, al-Ahram reported.
The newspaper said that if Qurei finalizes a ceasefire agreement with all Palestinian factions, and pledges to take concrete actions against those who breach it, then Prime Minister Sharon will be willing to meet Qurei.
Sharon expressed his willingness to meet Qurei during his meeting last week in Jerusalem with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Suleiman. Sharon said, however, that he would only meet Qurei on condition that the latter proves that the PA is willing to and capable of controlling terror groups