by DEBKAfile, 16 December 2001
"In a key speech delivered Sunday, December 16, Day One of Eid el Fitr, the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat vowed the Palestinians would continue their struggle against Israel until a Palestinian state is attained, with Jerusalem its capital. At the same time, he instructed his people to obey Palestinian Authority resolutions and halt armed operations completely and immediately. Israel, he declared, must cease its attacks on Palestinians; but suicide operations must stop too, 'as they give Sharon the initiative'."
In his first public appearance since the Israeli government declared him 'irrelevant' on December 13, Arafat solemnly promised his people eventual victory and a state capital in Jerusalem 'with all its churches and mosques'.
In Washington, the presidentís national security adviser, Condaleezza Rice, commented: 'We ask no more of him than any responsible leader in the world. Itís time for him to stop talking and do something'.
Similarly, the mildest reaction in Jerusalem was that the Palestinian leader would be judged on the goods he delivered, not words. Some officials called his speech fraudulent.
They all point out that Arafat did not live up to his advance billing and refrained from heralding the end of the intifada he launched against Israel last year. Furthermore, in the last 24 hours, he only went through the motions of sealing the offices of 33 Hamas and Jihad Islami, but made no arrests, leaving their 'military arms' untouched.
DEBKAfileís Palestinian sources report a last-minute incident over the text of Arafatís speech, as he worked on it Saturday night. Some of his advisers, including the heads of the Palestinian preventive security agencies, urged him to heed American, European and Israeli demands and call a stop to Palestinian terrorist operations - at least for a time. They said Palestinian security forces were ready to impose this directive if necessary. Some warned him he was leading the Palestinians into a head-on collision with the United States, placing all the intifadaís achievements at risk.
At this, Arafat burst out angrily: 'What achievements are you talking
about! The Oslo accords were nothing but a Trojan horse planted inside
the Palestinian camp and packed with Israeli soldiers!' ..."