Arafat trapped between the angry and the frustrated: Jerusalem bombing - World - News - The Independent

Arafat trapped between the angry and the frustrated: Jerusalem bombing

Arafat's dilemma

Yasser Arafat was far from the smoke and shrapnel when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a busy Jewish market on Wednesday, but he was none the less badly injured.

The explosions have left the Palestinian leader trapped, under intense pressure to act but faced with an array of equally unpalatable choices.

In an emergency meeting after the bombing, which left 15 dead and more than 170 injured, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his security Cabinet produced a list of demands for Mr Arafat, "first and foremost to fight the terror groups and their infrastructure". Israel blames the militant Palestinian organisation Hamas for the bombing, and Mr Arafat and his police for letting Hamas get away with it.

Mr Arafat must extradite Palestinians wanted by Israel, must take "immediate steps" against high-ranking officials in his police force who are accused of planning attacks on Israelis, and must resume full co-operation with Israeli security services - and until he does, Mr Netanyahu said, there will be no more peace talks.

The Israeli Prime Minister called his demands reasonable, indeed, basic, in the context of the peace process; he was echoed by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and most of the international community. But Israel could hardly have given Mr Arafat a more impossible list of demands.

"There is simply no way he can do this," said Dr Khalil Shiqaqi, head of the Centre for Palestine Research and Studies, a Nablus think-tank. "Israel has weakened him so far, he is fighting for his own survival, and Hamas is as much a threat to him as it is to Israelis. If he does what Israel demands, he will be discredited past any recovery."

A year and a half ago, after a series of bus bombings that left 66 Israelis dead and gutted the peace process, Mr Arafat was able to take forceful action against Hamas and Islamic Jihad; and indeed, he seriously damaged the infrastructure of both organisations. But back then, the PLO leader had just won election as president with 88 per cent of the vote; he had public support, because the Israeli army had recently left the West Bank cities; the economic situation was good and the peace process was going well.

"Today, none of those things is true," said Dr Shiqaqi. "Plus, he is facing wide allegations of corruption and human rights abuses."

Palestinian police have made some arrests in the West Bank towns they control, but Mr Arafat is in no position to start another crackdown on Islamists. While the suicide bombings are not condoned by the majority of Palestinians, Hamas as a political party does have a solid support base. Nor will it serve Mr Arafat now to be seen as caving in to Israeli demands. "He is not going to put himself on the line when Israel is doing everything it can to discredit him," Dr Shiqaqi said.

So what will he do? Palestinian commentators believe Mr Arafat will take some localised action against Hamas and Jihad, when he finds out who was responsible for this bombing. Then, he will have to wait out the Israeli anger, hoping his own population does not erupt first.

Palestinian political analyst Ghassan Khatib argues that Israel is being unrealistic in asking Mr Arafat to take measures now. "They don't understand that the violence is a result of Israeli policies, not a cause of the stagnation of the peace process," he said, citing settlement building and the closure of the Palestinian territories in particular. "Israelis need to ask themselves why 20-year-olds are so eager to commit suicide."

Yesterday morning, Israeli security forces arrested the families of two young men from the West Bank village of Dharriyeh and took them for genetic testing, attempting to identify the corpses of the suicide bombers. The two young men, Saled Al-Teil and Majid Qaissiyeh, disappeared from Dharriyeh 15 months ago and were the subject of a joint PA-Israeli search, because it was feared they might be planning such an attack. They were not known to be members of Hamas, although their families said they were "quite religious", and neither was married, in keeping with the profile of the typical suicide bomber.

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week