Arafat's strategy ruined by snub from Bibi

PLO leader turns to London for support after Israeli election, writes Patrick Cockburn

Jerusalem - His strategy is in ruins, Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, flew into London last night just as the Israeli government with which he signed the Oslo peace agreements began to make way for its right- wing successor.

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.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice