PLO officials speak of the 'good Jews'

TO HIS economic advisers, Yasser Arafat has promised Palestinian postage stamps in three weeks, passports in three months. 'There will be no problems with the Israelis about this,' one of those advisers commented wistfully as he strode the sand-encrusted lawn of one of Gaza's few hotels before we left for Jericho. 'The protesters don't matter. The Israelis are now what we call the 'enemy-friends'.'

It was an exclusive point of view. In Gaza - and yesterday in Jericho - PLO officials talked about the 'good Jews' with whom they could negotiate, the honest Israelis whom they could trust. But the moment we drove out across Israel and the occupied West Bank to Yasser Arafat's other borough in Jericho, all the old double standards reasserted themselves. At the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel, two elderly Palestinian women were forced to sit on the pavement in the sun while their papers were checked, hands upraised and pleading with an officer to allow them to pass. An Israeli border policeman forced a Palestinian with out-of-date papers to stand beside his car while he screamed abuse at him.

That morning's Jerusalem Post maintained the same double standards. The front page announced the wounding of an Israeli Jew by Arab 'terrorists' while the back page carried a smaller article reporting that 'Jewish extremists' may have been responsible for the murder of a Palestinian Arab. My Palestinian taxi driver watched fearfully as a squad of bearded Israelis in yamulkas erected a huge banner across the Ashkelon-Tel-Aviv highway intersection calling for Mr Arafat's assassination.

But the moment we arrived in Jericho, there were the PLO men again, all expressing trust and goodwill. A Palestinian major said passage in and out of Jericho for Mr Arafat had been fully co- ordinated with the Israelis; that indeed, an Israeli helicopter might escort Mr Arafat's machine across the land he calls Palestine early today. 'He will meet his ministers here in Jericho,' Faisal Husseini announced. 'The ministers will be sworn in and will then tell President Arafat of their needs.' A PLO colleague said that the three principal ministerial demands would be 'money, money and more money'.

Mr Arafat's stated refusal to accept the financial accountability demanded by international donors is causing some private disquiet among his staff. Officially they talk of the disrespect shown by the World Bank in suggesting that their 'president' cannot be trusted; privately they say that some of Mr Arafat's opponents in Gaza may have to be bought off, not least because they were well-armed by the Israelis in the last months of their occupation of Gaza City (the truth of this accusation will be debated for many months).

The need for funds is all too evident. Around Jericho, crudely painted signs have been erected outside grubby two-storey apartments and dust-covered offices. 'Palestine National Authority Land Department,' says one. 'Palestine Council of Health' and 'Palestine National Authority Department of Communications' - the latter painted on a wooden board above an alleyway beside Jericho's fly- blown post office.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there