Arafat's strategy ruined by snub from Bibi
PLO leader turns to London for support after Israeli election, writes Patrick Cockburn
Israel's Prime Minister-elect Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, says he would prefer not to meet Mr Arafat.
It is Mr Arafat's first visit to Britain as the elected president of the Palestinian Authority, which holds sway over the Palestinian enclaves in Gaza and the West Bank. Mr Arafat had hoped the autonomous areas would form the nucleus of a Palestinian state. But Mr Netanyahu has ruled this out.
Mr Arafat will meet the Prime Minister, John Major, who is expected to reiterate Britain's support for the Oslo accords. He will then go on to address the Oxford Union on "The Way Ahead: the Palestinian Perspective". During his visit he will try to increase international pressure on Mr Netanyahu to keep to agreements reached by the Labour government.
The most immediate problem is the Israeli pledge to withdraw from Hebron, administrative capital of the southern West Bank. Under Oslo Mark II, signed last year, Israel was to pull its military forces out of 85 per cent of the city by 28 March. After 63 people had been killed by four suicide bombs, Israel postponed withdrawal until after the election. The Labour government said yesterday it would leave the decision on withdrawal to its successor.
Mr Netanyahu has said he would like to postpone a decision on the future of Hebron - which has a population of 100,000 Palestinians surrounding a small settlement of 400 militant Jews in the city centre - until the final stage of negotiations. Many supporters of Mr Netanyahu - especially the religious parties - regard Hebron, and the Tomb of the Patriarchs it contains, as a Jewish holy site which must not be relinquished.
Mr Arafat now fears the Palestinians will get nothing in the final-status talks on Jerusalem, refugees, Israeli settlements and frontiers. Mr Netanyahu said during the campaign that he was not even prepared to talk about Jerusalem.
He is likely to close Orient House, the Palestinian political centre in east Jerusalem, and has promised to expand settlements on the West Bank. At the same time he has promised that Israel will live up to its international obligations.
After a seven-hour meeting in Gaza on Friday night to discuss the elections, Mr Arafat's spokesman, Marwan Kanafani, said: "Mr Netanyahu is a politician, he is not an adventurer, and I think he will respect the agreement which has been signed between the National Authority and the State of Israel."
Meanwhile, the victorious Likud Party made its first contact ever with the Palestine Authority on Friday when Dr Dore Gold, a Netanyahu foreign-policy adviser, phoned Mahmoud Abbas, a leading PLO official.
Most menacing for Mr Arafat is Mr Netanyahu's position that he will allow the Israeli army to exercise the right of hot pursuit into autonomous Palestinian enclaves.
During the campaign he accused the Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, of letting Mr Arafat, in effect, control Israeli security. If there is another suicide bomb causing casualties, it will be difficult for Mr Netanyahu to change his position.
In Lebanon, where Hizbollah guerrillas killed four Israeli soldiers and two members of the Israeli-controlled militia last week, Mr Netanyahu is likely to try punishing Syria forces in Lebanon directly for any Hizbollah attack.
Likud advisers such as Dr Gold have argued against Labour's strategy of blaming Iran for orchestrating Hizbollah activities, and say Syria must be held responsible for attacks.
t Binyamin Netanyahu, elected as Israel's next prime minister on a pledge of tougher positions in Middle East peace talks, called yesterday for "peace with security" with the Jewish state's Arab neighbours.
"I said the peace begins at home, but it has to be continued abroad," Mr Netanyahu told cheering supporters in his first public speech since his electoral victory last week. "We will also work to further peace deals and coexistence with other Arab states. I call on them also to join the circle of peace," he said.
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Paris charity auction staged to save the ancient city of Tyre
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
A very timely Great Train Robbery and a frantic 24 Hours in A&E among the highlights
Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'
Colin Farrell reveals ‘affair’ with Elizabeth Taylor: 'She was my last romantic relationship'
Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Peter O'Toole: Tales of the late film icon
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£25000 - £32000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Business Analyst - Banking...
£21999 - £27001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have exten...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...
£42000 - £51000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Are You Receiving...