by Zafar Bangash (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 21, Ramadan, 1419)
Yasir Arafat, head of the Palestine National Authority (PNA), needed a grand camouflage for his final surrender to the Zionists to publicly eschew any thoughts of ever liberating Palestine. This was provided on December 14 by the presence in Ghazzah of US president Bill Clinton, himself being hounded by a Republican-dominated congress for perjury. His impeachment hearings were in full swing when Clinton landed in Tel Aviv before heading for Arafat’s little kingdom in Ghazzah on December 14.
The visit was disguised as a sop to the Palestinians’ aspiration for Statehood in the overcrowded, impoverished Ghazzah Strip under PNA control. It is surrounded by Israeli tanks and barbed wire on all sides. In the few towns in the West Bank which, together with Ghazzah make up the Palestinian entity, armed Jewish settlers - recent immigrants from Brooklyn, New York - prowl the streets intimidating local inhabitants.
With Clinton present, Arafat asked members of the Palestine National Council to vote for annulment of all the clauses calling for the liberation of Palestine from Zionist occupation (the Zionists and the western media insist on calling it the ‘destruction of Israel’) contained in the Palestine National Charter of 1964. Not only did Arafat’s assembled ‘troops’ eagerly raise their hands (some raised both of them!) in a show of surrender, many also jumped to their feet as a bemused Clinton looked on.
This, however, was not enough for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While calling the vote a ‘positive change,’ he delivered another kick in Arafat’s face the following day when the trio (Arafat, Clinton and Netanyahu) met by demanding that the PNA fulfil more Israeli demands. These included public renunciation of declaring a Palestinian State next May, crushing all resistance to Zionist occupation, confiscating all weapons in possession of the Palestinian civilians and reducing the number of Palestinian policemen.
Netanyahu is aware that the putative Palestinian leader is at his mercy and he does not need to give anything in return. He also refused to accommodate Clinton’s entreaties to provide him a fig-leaf to take back to Washington by redeploying Israeli occupation forces from a few more kilometres of land in the West Bank as called for in the October 23, 1998 Wye agreement. Netanyahu pointedly refused to redeploy any troops on December 18 and 31 as called for in the Wye accord.
The Zionists know how to make Arafat crawl for implementation of the very clauses that are entirely in their (Israel’s) favour. It is important to remember that even in the PNA-administered areas, the Zionists have relinquished control only of internal affairs - garbage collection, roads/sewers construction and the like. No one can come in or leave these areas, including the much-touted Ghazzah International Airport, without Israeli security clearance.
While Arafat was preparing for his final act of strip-tease, the Zionists were busy with further land-grabs in the West Bank. Arial Sharon, the Israeli foreign minister, urged Jewish settlers on November 14, 1998 to grab every hill-top and every field. He told them anything they grabbed would be theirs to keep. Nowhere has theft been so glorified or glaringly obvious as in Zionist occupied Palestine.
History also seems to be repeating itself. In 1974, weeks before then US president Richard Nixon was forced to resign in disgrace to avoid impeachment over the break-in at the Watergate hotel in Washington DC, he was warmly welcomed in Egypt. The former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat even conferred upon him the Order of the Nile, the highest civilian medal. Huge banners in Cairo proclaimed, ‘We trust you, Mr President.’ A few weeks later, Nixon was consigned to the dustbin of history.
Arafat is putting his trust in Clinton who has become something of a pariah in the US. At best, he is a lame duck president. Yet Arafat hopes that he will save him from annihilation - at the hands of the Zionists as well as his own people.
Palestine, however, is not Arafat’s to give away to the Zionist invaders or anyone else. It is Waqf land (sacred trust) of all the Muslims of the world. When the second Khalifah, Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, took possession of Al-Quds in 638 CE, he declared Palestine as Waqf property.
Muslims cannot abandon their heritage, no matter what Arafat or his fellow travellers in the surrender brigade may do.
Muslimedia: January 1-15, 1999