Now Arafat must sell the deal to his people

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The Independent Online

One after another, members of the Jaber family pull out the documentary evidence of their intifada injuries. You can tell from the careful way in which they draw them from their dog-eared envelopes that these are regarded as papers of great importance.

One note, marked "Palestine National Authority ­ Ministry of Health", describes how Emneh Jaber, 63, the grandmother, was wounded on her hand and arm when she was stoned by a Jewish settler last month.

Another reveals that the youngest child, a three-year-old girl, Cokab, was treated for cuts close to her left eye, caused ­ say the Jabers ­ by glass from a window hit by a rock. A third contains X-rays showing the damaged ribs of Jawdy Jaber, 40, also the victim of a stone-thrower.

But their injuries are minor when compared with the horrific results of the Palestinian suicide bomb that killed 21 youngsters in Tel Aviv two weeks ago, or the Israeli shells which killed three women in their tent in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. However, that does not diminish the sense of injustice felt by the Jabers, or that their experience is no different to that of thousands of other Palestinian families in the occupied territories.

As Israeli and Palestinian security officials met yesterday to implement a truce brokered by the CIA on Tuesday night, it seemed there was little to convince most ordinary Palestinians that they are any better off than they were nine months ago, before the intifada began.

The Jabers live on the edge of Hebron, on soil which they have farmed for generations. Or rather, they live on the remnants of it. Half their property was expropriated a few years ago to expand a neighbouring Jewish settlement.

To ensure Arabs stay out, the Israelis have built a 40ft stone wall, which rears above their home. Settlers have regularly taken to turning up outside their house, using volleys of abuse and rocks. "They shout 'Get out of here, this is our land, we don't want any Arabs'," said Emneh Jaber, her hand still bandaged from the last attack.

Yasser Arafat must now provide answers to people like the Jabers. He will be under pressure to explain to them why he has agreed to a ceasefire "work plan", drawn up by the director of the CIA George Tenet. He won no guarantee that Israel will begin to end its siege of the West Bank and Gaza Strip by a specified date.

Israel promised to release prisoners who have been arrested in the intifada but who are not involved in guerrilla attacks; to hold investigations into the killing of Arab civilians by the Israeli army, and not to launch assaults against facilities belonging to the Palestinian authority, or against civilians. The Palestinians agreed to end incitement, confiscate illegal weapons (including mortars and rockets) and to jail "terrorists" ­ although they managed to ensure that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were not specifically mentioned.

And both sides agreed to return to security co-operation. But the deal contains no commitment from Israel to put a total stop to settlement building.

Not for the first time, Mr Arafat has to sell this deal to the people. His own Fatah organisation, which has been a leading player in the uprising, usually rallies round their leader. Hamas may take a different view. And people such as the Jabers cannot but resent the fact that the last nine months of misery has achieved nothing.

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