Should he stay? Should he go?
he stays there will be trouble. If he goes it will be double.
expel or not to expel? That is the question.
devised a military plan to remove Yasser Arafat one year ago. An
elite Israel Defense Force unit prepared to snatch the Palestinian
Authority president from his headquarters in the city of Ramallah
during Operation Defensive Shield in March and April, 2002, the
Jerusalem Post quoted Israel Army Radio as reporting. Soldiers were
prepared to storm Arafat´s building and remove him to a North
African country aboard a military helicopter, but the operation
never received final approval.
analysis of Israeli government officials is split on expelling
controls, at minimum, all security forces of the Palestinian
Authority. These include known terrorism perpetrators of Arafat’s
Fatah faction such as the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Force 17 and
prevailing assessment in Israel´s defense establishment was that
the Tzrifin attack was perpetrated by a Tanzim cell from Nablus. If
true, the attack could have been the trigger to change Israel´s
policy toward Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, since
Tanzim is affiliated with Arafat´s Fatah movement. The main Tanzim
operative in Nablus is Naif Abu-Shreikh, who heads Fatah´s military
wing in the city. Abu-Shreikh has been involved in many previous
homicide bombings and receives orders and funding from two sources:
members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard stationed in Lebanon and
Fatah members based in the Muqata.
around midnight, Hamas took responsibility for the attack both in
Tzrifin and Jerusalem. As Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said last night,
"the attacks could be by all the ’Palestinian’ groups, they
are all fighting for vengeance."
end of the cease-fire and the resignation of Palestinian Prime
Minister Mahmoud Abbas sparked renewed calls by Israeli politicians
for Arafat´s expulsion. If his Fatah organization indeed proves to
have been responsible for yesterday´s attack, this might encourage
the government to either accede to this demand or to take other
steps against Arafat. Several such steps have been considered over
the last week, including severing his ties with the outside world by
reinstating a tight siege around his Muqata ! compound in Ramallah
and disrupting the compound´s telephone connections.
expulsion was once again discussed in last night´s security
consultations, but the defense establishment remains divided over
the wisdom of the move, while Prime Minister Ariel Sharon attributes
great importance to America´s position. Thus far, the Americans
have opposed deporting Arafat, but solid proof of Fatah involvement
in yesterday´s bombing might reduce their opposition - or at least
get them to consent to a renewed siege of the Muqata.
of State Colin Powell called the Arab “Palestinian” Foreign
Minister Nabil Shaath to say that the United States remains opposed
to any plans to expel Yasser Arafat.
addition to speaking to Nabil Shaath , Powell also repeated the
message to Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Jordanian
Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher.
State Department official said. Israel’s Security Cabinet decided
to reserve the right to expel Arafat, although it said it would not
do so immediately.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, former head of the IDF and general
believes Arafat must go. Mofaz is one of the greatest proponents of
Arafat’s exile and expulsion.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has called for Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat to be expelled, saying he is obstructing peace moves.
Mofaz told Israeli army radio that Arafat was a "major obstacle
for [Palestinian Prime Minister] Mahmoud Abbas and for the whole
said the government had to "find the right moment" before
throwing out Arafat without damaging Abbas, who is also known as Abu
Mazen. He said this could be done "in a relatively short space
of time, very possibly even this year".
added: "I think Israel made a historic mistake by not expelling
him about two years ago".
never wanted to reach an agreement with us and all he wants is to
continue the conflict and bleed the citizens of Israel," Mofaz
has in the past said “Arafat should have been expelled at the
start of the latest ‘Palestinian’ uprising three years ago.”
But this view has not officially been endorsed by the Israeli
has been largely confined by Israeli forces to his battered
headquarters in the town of Ramallah for the past year and a half.
Israel and the United States have accused him of sabotaging efforts
by Abu Mazen to take over the security forces at a time when
militant groups have resumed attacks against Israelis.
Abbas has now resigned the possibility of Arafat’s expulsion sees
more imminent. There is no Abbas reputation to be concerned with
successor tends to agree with his predecessor.
before the Tzrifin bombing, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff
Moshe Ya´alon, speaking at a conference in Herzliya, said that
Israel would have to weigh its policy on Arafat in light of the fact
that terror attacks are still being funded and commissioned from the
also said that Israel would continue its attacks on senior Hamas
officials. Israel, he declared, will hunt down terrorists wherever
they are - "in the organizations´ offices in Damascus, with
members of Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon or among
the Palestinian terrorist cells in the territories."
however, defense officials said they are still worried by the large
number of serious warnings of intended terror attacks if Arafat is
exiled and will make him a martyr.
particularly after the resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime
Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), there has been a surging chorus
of voices in Israel calling for Arafat´s expulsion.
Paritsky, Israeli Minister of Infrastructure, however, believes
expulsion would strengthen Arafat internally and internationally.
According to Paritisky, it is better to keep a close watchful eye on
expulsion would bestow upon Arafat status as an exiled ruler, as a
kind of martyr cast out of his homeland by a cruel conqueror. There
would be no better way to confer to Arafat such vaunted
international status, precisely the image he so badly craves. The
elite corridors in Europe would open up to him; international media
would regularly interview him; and such success would be nothing,
compared to the way Arafat´s stock would soar in the Arab world.
Have we become so witless that we would, on our ! own initiative,
grant Arafat such lofty stature?
fact, Arafat´s current geographic proximity to us has some utility.
Whatever remains within one´s range of vision is always more
accessible than what is far away. Perhaps we will reach the
conclusion that we have no option other than to negotiate, through
one mechanism or another, with Arafat and his associates. In such a
case, his expulsion could rule out such a negotiating option.
must face the simple truth: Arafat has unsurpassed stature in
Palestinian society. Palestinians view him as president, and as a
national hero. Among other things, his saintly status stems from his
ability to navigate between mutually contentious factions in
Palestinian society, and from his resistance to Israel. And since
Arafat´s strength is sustained by his opposition to Israel, his
exile would only fortify his position among Palestinians.
expulsion would play into Arafat´s hands, and strengthen him,
negotiations with him would, paradoxically, weaken him. That is
because such talks would likely cause tension or outright conflict
between Arafat and the fundamentalist terror organizations. There
can only be one real test of a policy measure - and that is a cold,
calculated measure of its utility. By this standard, what would be
better for Israel: Arafat´s isolation,or to move closer to him? We
must remember: We are at war, and wars are won by ploys, cagey
shrewdness and initiative."
will be able to travel freely. Arafat will be an international
jetsetter and fundraiser for terrorism against Israel. Arafat in
exile will be a big mistake and disaster for Israel. It is better to
keep a close eye on him and isolate him as much as possible. Keep
him under “house arrest” and guard in Muqata and make Arafat an
"irrelevant" ruler until he dies a natural death.
Fitleberg is a Political Analyst specializing in International
Relations with emphasis on Middle East affairs.