Mr Arafat must not ignore the dissent in Gaza

Share
Related Topics

Yasser Arafat has survived many threats to his life and many assaults on his leadership. But the present crisis in Gaza represents possibly the gravest challenge of his political career, since it comes from many of the core supporters he has alienated.

Yasser Arafat has survived many threats to his life and many assaults on his leadership. But the present crisis in Gaza represents possibly the gravest challenge of his political career, since it comes from many of the core supporters he has alienated.

The immediate cause of the near-anarchy of recent days was Mr Arafat's shamelessly corrupt decision to elevate a nephew to head internal security as part of a long-promised overhaul. Yesterday Mr Arafat rescinded the appointment in a belated attempt to mollify his critics. However, Mr Arafat may still lose his Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, who tendered his resignation after a string of kidnappings and a breakdown of law and order in Gaza. Mr Qurei is supposed to have overall charge of security, but like his predecessor, Abu Mazen, his position is almost untenable against Mr Arafat's refusal to cede authority.

Mr Arafat illegally used the departure of Abu Mazen to reinforce his own hold over internal security, but he is now facing a groundswell of anger - albeit encouraged by Fatah militants - from an impoverished and embattled people exhausted by years of both Israeli military assault and misrule by their own leaders. The "cronyism" row, and the dispute over control of security, also represent a struggle for power by rival Palestinian factions ahead of a planned Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza by the end of 2005. Younger Palestinians are attempting to assert themselves over the "old guard" represented by Mr Arafat and his cronies, which they see - with some justification - as tribal, corrupt and autocratic.

Mr Arafat's reluctance to surrender control of the security forces under pressure from the Americans and Israelis is not surprising. But faced with such intense internal pressure he has to give ground. His behaviour is helpful only to the extremists of Hamas on one hand and the extremists on the right of Israeli politics who oppose dealings with the Palestinian leadership on the other. Even Mr Arafat, for all his stubbornness, must recognise that it is in Palestinian interests to show that the Palestinian Authority is the government of a state-in-waiting, not the plaything of an ageing autocrat.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Call Handler

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a Sales Ca...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique pers...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Rachel Reeves is the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary  

What are we voting for? No one knows

Stefano Hatfield
 

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor