Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Arafat was murdered?

It seems the world is waking up to the fact that Arafat was killed. About time:

President Arafat's Last Message

Full transcript of the final interview given by the Palestinian President, Chairman Yasser Arafat at a meeting with the Peace through Media delegation of the International Media Council of the Next Century Foundation. Delegation Members: Roula Khalaf, Ewen MacAskill, Peter David, Anton La Guardia, Jane Kinninmont and Jessica Sallabank.The Delegation was headed by William Morris, Secretary General of the Next Century Foundation. Also present were Jabril Rajoub, and Maie Sarraf. The meeting (President Arafat's last on-the-record discussion) took place very late at night on Monday 11th October, two days before President Arafat suddenly and dramatically fell prey to an undiagnosed but fatal illness. The full discussion lasted three hours. These are William Morris' notes of the meeting:


"We get Gaza with no port, airport or safe passage? And this is good?"


"The Egyptians were disturbed by the Taba bombs, and Mr Avi Dichter[1] warned of this?  How come he speaks of this and does not tell the Egyptians.  If I had anything to tell the Israelis I would send a message through the British.  They have good cooperation.

"We succeeded in stopping many terrorist actions that way. Mark my words:

·         What happened in Sharm Al Sheikh and Taba means tourism will be affected for two years.  That is big income for Egypt.
·         This bombing is an attempt to keep Egypt away from entering into the game politically, either with us or with the Syrians.

"What does it mean that Avi Dichter declared it officially and gave warnings about Taba? 


"What happens in Gaza will have an impact and either help positively or impact negatively on the peace process, with Egyptian cooperation. Soon Omar Suleiman[2] is going to Israel[3]

"We agreed from the beginning to real withdrawal and not redeployment. By redeployment I mean that while they withdraw from most of Gaza, they close off Kalkilya in the northern West Bank and Hebron and Bethlehem in the south and stay in the Philadelphi pass in Gaza.

"Last month some Israeli politicians talked about the administration in Gaza not going to the PLO.  This is a dangerous step.  Only the PLO can handle these issues. Here in this room the Quartet representatives: Moratinos, Alastair Crooke[4] and the UN representative, agreed to kick out all those in the Nativity Church (the Bethlehem siege) to Europe and Gaza and withdraw the Israelis from Bethlehem. But they reoccupied Bethlehem and declared it a closed military zone while our deportees were not allowed to return.

"It is my duty to go to Gaza. But it is also my duty to return back to the West Bank.  But I am here in this prison (the bombed out 'Mukhatta' compound in Ramallah[5]).

"Egypt has accepted that the withdrawal must be part of the roadmap. Egypt is determined that the unilateral plan for Gaza will not deter progress on a wider, negotiated peace. Did you know that withdrawal from Gaza was actually offered long ago in the first Camp David between Sadat and Begin?  We discussed it in 1978 but decided then that Gaza alone was not acceptable.  Even in the Oslo talks it was to be Gaza first but I insisted I’d not sign unless it was Gaza and Jericho.

QUESTION: Discussion turned to recent comments by Ariel Sharon’s senior advisor, Dov Weissglass, who was reported to have said that the Gaza plan would freeze the peace process and indefinitely postpone the prospects of Palestinian statehood.

"A big scandal!" laughs Arafat


"My partner Rabin was loyal to his commitments.  More than that.  Many countries restored diplomatic relations with Israel at that time.  Between Kerry and Bush there is not any difference. It does not matter who wins, what counts is how they approach the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Bush’s father started peace in Madrid.  Sharon was against attending that conference.

"We had a start with the Clinton-Oslo agreement.  It is very difficult to have peace with Sharon.  Maybe with Netanyahu it will work.  Remember that initially Netanyahu accepted the Wye River agreement whereas Sharon refused.  Clinton had to pressure him into agreement.   Then Camp David.  Then the Mitchell Report.

"As for Barak; Barak gave his approval for Sharon to visit the Mosque (Haram es Sharif).  I contacted Barak – 'I am coming to see you in your house', I said.  Me, Nabil, Abu Mazin, Abu Alla. 

"I said, 'You are a General and Sharon is a General.  How do you not respect the order of Dayan who took the flag down on 11 June 1967?  He has forbidden any Israeli person to visit the Mosque. You can’t understand.  Please don’t make that fatal mistake.'  In spite of that, they do this.

"When Netanyahu made a tunnel before that, we warned them.  Yesterday, what settlers did to an Armenian caused problems. 


"Our entire infrastructure has been destroyed.  Our best agricultural land has been destroyed.  Our purchase taxes collected by them – they take 3% and should return 97%.  But they confiscate over more than 42 months, billions of shekels, which has been reserved.  Now, they begin to give us small amounts.

QUESTION: "Is it difficult living in such confinement?" asked one journalist.

"This is not the first time I have been in prison.  Back in 1970/71 I was obliged to stay in Mount Hermon for two years in ice and snow and shelling every day. Nasser made an agreement that we should go from Mount Hermon to Fatah. 

QUESTION: Jane Kinninmont asked: "Looking back on your decades of leadership, is there anything you would prefer to have done differently?"

"I regret that we lost the opportunity at Camp David. They say that we Palestinians were the ones that lost a chance and an opportunity in Camp David.  They are not telling the truth. We did not lose the opportunity at Camp David. It is enough we continued Camp David in Paris in President Chirac’s office, and we continued in Sharm Al Sheikh.  Later we had Mitchell.

"But the Israelis, they wanted to maintain control over air and sea. They wanted:

·         Vertical sovereignty on Haram es Sharif[6]
·         The Armenian Quarter under Jewish sovereignty.

"I went to the Jerusalem Committee of the Islamic Conference and to the Christians.  I offered them what had been offered to me.  I told them:  If you are accepting, we accept.  They refused. Jerusalem is not only for us, it is for the world. I recognize the need to share Jerusalem between Muslims, Christians and Jews. When we were small boys we played together, the Jews and I in Jerusalem. 

"But after Sharm El Sheikh, we went in the morning to meet the Israelis because President Mubarak asked us to come, then Barak refused to come to sign.  Barak had betrayed the Labour Party when the agreement between him and Sharon to hold the snap election was made, to be Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively.

"It is very difficult to have peace with Sharon.  Maybe with Netanyahu it will work.  Remember that initially Netanyahu accepted the Wye River agreement whereas Sharon refused.  Clinton had to pressurize him into agreement. 

QUESTION: Peter David comments: "Yet Netanyahu is opposed to Sharon’s plan to pull settlers out of Gaza?"

Arafat laughs, "When, currently, Netanyahu opposes the Gaza withdrawal, he only does so to score points for a potential election campaign.  Anyway the more fanatical Jews don’t like Gaza.

QUESTION: Anton La Guardia took up Jane Kinninmont's question. "Do you have any regrets, Mr President?"

"For your information, we accepted the roadmap, in accordance with UN Resolution 1515. We accepted the Road Map – why do Israelis still put 14 reservations on something they are supposed to have accepted?  It is not our text.

"Under resolution 181 Jerusalem is under UN control.

QUESTION: Roula Khalaf asked the same question in Arabic. "Do you have any regrets, Mr President?"

"Do not forget that fanatical Jews killed my partner Yitzhak Rabin". (An Israeli assassinated Israel's Prime Minister Rabin in 1995, after he signed the Oslo peace accord.)

QUESTION: To a  question about the cease-fire:

"George Tenet said two weeks cease-fire was all he needed.  We gave 23 days during which I was obliged to arrest Rantisi and put Yassin under house arrest.

"Under the roadmap they asked for a cease-fire.

QUESTION: (The President was asked about the Qassam rockets)

"They have never hurt anyone.  

QUESTION: What about the two Israeli children who were killed by Qassams in the Israeli town of Sderot in September?

Arafat replied that, "Qassams are not 'rockets', they are more like 'pipes'. It is usually the shock that kills people. The settler children were not killed directly by the rockets. They died from the blast.

"We succeeded in making discussions with Hammas.  And Hammas say, 'We are ready for a cease-fire but stop the targeted killings.'


"We are ready to make peace with anyone.  I dealt with Sharon and with his son, Omri, and many times I sent Palestinian delegations to his farm.

QUESTION: Palestinian Security Chief, Gabril Rajoub had joined us for the meal, and was now sitting at the end of the table chewing a falafel cake.  Someone asked Arafat whether contacts were ongoing with the Israelis.  Arafat looked up at William Morris and smiled. 

"Ask your friend." Arafat nodded at Gabril.  "He is in secret contact with the Israelis."

Gabril looked up.  “Omri?  I met him last year”.

Arafat smiled again and looked at William Morris.  "He met him last month." Then Arafat turned to Rajoub and laughed.  “You don’t want to say the truth in front of me! Of course, they are secret talks, so I am keeping them very secret.”

Gabril Rajoub shrugged but remained silent.   

QUESTION: SECURITY: Someone asked who would control the security services in Gaza.

The President smiled.  In answer he replied, “You speak to Yasser Arafat. I was elected. I am the President of the Palestinian Independent State since 1988”.

QUESTION: We asked, would the Israelis withdraw from the Philadelphi pass, the Gaza border with Egypt, and would the Egyptians be capable of taking control at the border.

"Omar Suleiman has started the negotiations and they returned back to get our approval because according to the Camp David agreement, the Egyptian Army cannot go to area C – only the police." [7]


“Now the donors offer to buy the Israeli industrial zone in the North of the Gaza Strip from Israel.”

QUESTION: And the houses of the settlers?

“I want them to destroy the houses.  Gaza has greater population problems than Hong Kong and the space is needed.  The Israelis live in villas in those settlements. 

QUESTION: And what of the development of the gas field?

 “We don’t negotiate over all the details.  The final details have not even been discussed.”

QUESTION: Would Nato monitors be acceptable?

 “The Egyptians declared they are ready to bring border guards between Egyptian Rafa and Palestinian Rafa.  We would accept monitors.  Why not?  Part of the agreement is that there should be observers from the Quartet Committee.  We accept UN multinational forces like those in Sinai and in Jordan Valley.  Why not?”

QUESTION: THE REFUGEE ISSUE  Is a compromise possible on refugees?

"Yes.  We have reached an agreement with Barak.

§  Those displaced in 1967 who became refugees: Their issue can be solved.  No problem.
§  The previous (1948) refugees – we succeeded to arrive at an agreement with Barak and in the presence of President Clinton.  Some of those are in a bad situation, especially in Lebanon where they are forbidden to work in 69 different types of job.

"Clinton asked me how many refugees there were in Lebanon. I said: 'When I was in Lebanon there were 480,000 refugees but some left for Northern Europe, Canada, Australia, Latin America.'

"He asked, 'How many are there now?'

"I said, '320,000'. 

"Later Clinton said, 'I contacted the Lebanese president.  He told me 190,000.'  They must return to Israel or to the West Bank.  Barak has accepted this.

"It is the first place for them to go. 


"As for Jerusalem. I accepted the Wailing Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the passage from the Jewish Quarter to West Jerusalem was under their control.

"We are not Afghanistan.  We are Palestinians.  This is the Holy Land for the whole world.


"Israel will not negotiate. This means destroy the Palestinian future to have a Palestinian state.  Who can accept this?

"Among every 1000 Israeli students, 14 are post graduates.  Among every 1000 Palestinian students, 18 are post graduates.  The highest percentage of education is in this area.

"In Gaza we have the biggest reserve of gas.  And we have the best flowers in Gaza.


"They have quickly to solve this problem.  Remember – President Bush’s father in the first gulf war.  There was strong pressure to continue.  He refused to enter one metre of Iraq – he was a man of vision who knows history.

"I was involved in the Iranian Committee to stop the Arab/Iran war.

"And I convinced Saddam to withdraw from Kuwait and he accepted.  But then he came back to reoccupy – astonishingly.

"The US needs a quick solution.


"We have a problem in North Gaza, Jerusalem and part of Bethlehem where we are unable to proceed with registration for the elections because of obstacles put in our way by the Israelis – Municipal elections should proceed in December.

"In March 2005 we want the main Palestinian Authority elections which should have happened in January 2003.

"Do you not know the Israelis are using depleted uranium on our people every day? The Israelis use depleted uranium on their shells causing cancer.  Infertility has risen. Ask the hospitals, there is now a high rate of infertility in the Occupied Territories.


"Only Saudi pays contributions to the Palestinian Authority.  Sheikh Maktoum in the UAE took all the money of the PLO (the 5% contributed as a proportion of the salaries of Palestinian expatriate workers), 'to help my youth to marry', he said.  (a reference to an incident in 1995/96).

"Kuwaitis last year they were paying – this year.  No.

"Also the Emirates paid in the beginning, but then Zayed is ill.

"It seems there is some pressure from others to stop our friends funding us.

QUESTION: SECURITY: We asked who would control security in Gaza?

"You are speaking to Yasser Arafat.  I am controlling every person.  You can ask the British because they are helping us here and in Gaza.  Here everything goes smoothly.

"Even whilst Khameini was financing part of Hammas, Islamic Jihad and tried to influence part of Fatah.

"Hizbollah tries to make an Al Qa'ida base in Ain Helwa camp.

"(Grand Ayatollah) Khameini is a troublemaker – not only for us.  Khatemi is a good man.

"Qardawi[8] – he was accused of trying to promote trouble.  Kardawi has been playing from the beginning with Qa'ida.  My fatal mistake was helping release him from prison. I had personally intervened to secure Qardawi’s release from an Egyptian jail in 1954. [9]Arafat glanced at Jane Kinninmont and laughed. ‘There – that was my mistake!’ Arafat grins.


The Israelis blew up the oldest church in the world to start construction of the wall[10].

The wall confiscates land.

The meeting then ended at midnight at the behest of Arafat's aids, who were tired, though there was every indication that President Arafat was happy to talk on into the night.

[1] Mr Avi Dichter, Head of ISA (Shin Bet)
[2] Mr Omar Suleiman, Egyptian Security Boss
[3] Now further delayed by President Arafat's unexpected death. The visit had been scheduled for 11 November. It will now take place at the earliest opportunity in the week commencing 15th November.
[4] Mr Alastair Crooke, former special security advisor to Javier Solana, EU High Representative and Head of Foreign and Security Policy
[5] The complex of buildings known as the Mukhatta was built as a British police fort, then served as a Jordanian base and an Israeli military camp before the Palestinians took it over in 1996, turning it into Arafat’s main headquarters in the West Bank
[6] An arrangement under the terms of which sovereignty of all under the ground at Haram es Sharif / Temple Mount would go to Israel whereas everything above the ground would be sovereign to Palestine.
[7] This was a reference to the current state of affairs.  We are aware that there will be an exchange of letters with Israel to allow Egypt’s army access to area C, the area of Sinai that abuts the Gaza.
[8] Arafat refers to the Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yussef al-Qardawi, whose recent visit to the UK met controversy over his pronouncements on women’s rights and suicide bombings.
[9] Reference to an intercession many years ago by Arafat when the Egyptians imprisoned Kardawi because they considered him to be an extremist
[10] Reference to the demolition of an archaeological site which stood in a position that obstructed the construction of the barrier

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