August 29, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 561

Editor of London's Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Daily: Arafat and Abu Mazen Must Go!

August 29, 2003
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 561

An article authored by the editor of the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, titled "The Palestinian Leadership Must Go," appeared in the August 28, 2003 edition of the newspaper. The following is a full translation of the article. [1]

'We Pour Out Shame'

"If the occupied Palestinian land pours out blood and pain, we pour out shame. We do not know where to look when we watch the series of squabbles among members of the Ramallah leadership. [I refer to] the arm-wrestling between Abu Ammar [Arafat] and Abu Mazen; the hair-pulling between Rajoub and Dahlan; and the skirmish between Al-Qaddoumi and Sha'ath, the sound of which could be heard as far away as Cairo.

"Is it not shameful and distressing when a Palestinian woman sacrifices her children for these leaders who refuse to give up their seats? Is it not shameful that these are the figures who drag the entire Arab world into a struggle that they term 'central,' while in its present form, conducted before the eyes and ears of all, it is no more than a personal farce? Why should anyone sacrifice anything for a matter controlled by personal interests?"

'Nothing Interests This Leadership Except Its Own Personal Battles'

"Among the reasons why some of us suspect that their leadership is not a [true] leadership is that [this leadership] will neither fight nor make peace. As the Palestinian women mourn their sons, their brothers, and their fathers, the shrieks of the leaders [scuffling] for chairs and salaries arise. This leadership wants neither a solution nor land; nothing interests it except its own personal battles.

"Most unfortunately, the fight of these six is the usual form of rule to which the Palestinian leadership has accustomed [us], over many years. It is this that made many governments, and not only the American [government], demand change and the consolidation of a transparent regime. However, unfortunately, the stick gets stuck in the wheels every time the wagon begins to move – and the reason for this is always fights over personal interests.

"The truth is that there is no ideological dispute regarding the management or resolution of the conflict between Abu Mazen, Abu Ammar, Nabil Sha'ath, Farouq Qaddoumi, Muhammad Dahlan, and Jibril Rajoub, as well as others who stand at the top of high-ranking officialdom – it is only a dispute over chairs. The Arab governments watch the quarrelling of the PA members and do not know where to look. Facing them is the president of a state who claims to be elected, and a prime minister whom he appointed but to whom he does not want to give powers.

"The second battle concerns the voice of the Palestinians abroad: Nabil Sha'ath or Farouq Al-Qaddoumi! Despite my esteem for Al-Qaddoumi, he is a man who has never fully acknowledged the existing Palestinian platform; how then can he continue serving as a minister when he is, in effect, opposed to the platform? Moreover, Al-Qaddoumi even refused to recognize the Palestinian state as it is, questioned its legitimacy, and has not returned to his land Palestine for 40 years – until last week - when he heard that Abu Mazen had decided to replace him as foreign minister with Nabil Sha'ath. [2] Isn't that strange?"

'It Is Time for the Palestinian Leadership To Realize It Must Go'

"Another ongoing conflict is between Muhammad Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub. The prime minister was not spared Rajoub's wrath after appointing [Rajoub's] rival Dahlan [as Minister of Security Affairs]; [ Rajoub ] launched an attack of personal invective, some of which he did not hesitate to say on television. Abu Ammar [Arafat] saw the recent suicide operations and Israeli aggression as an opportunity to avenge himself on Abu Mazen and placate Rajoub. Thus, not only did he give him a position comparable [to that of Dahlan], but also gave him a higher military rank. This is how the government is being run, how the territory is being liberated, and how the pain of the tormented is being treated.

"It is time for the Palestinian leadership to realize that it must go, be it the leadership of Abu Ammar, or of Abu Mazen. The most recent rounds [of infighting] confirmed suspicions and proved previous accusations that there is no real leadership that bears responsibility and is ready to sacrifice its own interests and posts in order to accomplish the task for which it was elected.

"Isn't the suffering of a people, half of which has been living in refugee camps for 40 years now, and the other half of which has been living under occupation, bad enough? Is it with such a lame leadership that the Palestinians will free their land? Should we enter into conflict with the rest of the world for the sake of these individuals?"

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 28, 2003.

[2] Al-Qaddoumi did not enter the Palestinian Authority areas, but announced that he was considering doing so.

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