RAMALLAH ø Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has sought
to counter an Egyptian diplomatic offensive that seeks to reduce his rule
over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Over the last week, Arafat has been convening senior aides as well as
Fatah operatives to maintain his rule amid Egypt's demands that the chairman
hand over power to Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. The proposal has been
supported by the so-called Quartet, composed of the European Union, Russia,
United Nations and United States.
"Arafat intends to fight this because he realizes that this could be the
end of his career," a PA official said. "But he won't fight Egypt head on,
rather have others do it."
[On Wednesday, Arafat relayed a protest to Jordan's King Abdullah in
connection with a joint Israeli-Jordanian tour of the northern West Bank
last week. Jordan has offered to train PA security officers in the West
Egypt, which has obtained Israeli permission to deploy an additional 150
troops along the Egyptian-Gaza border, has also demanded that Arafat fire at
least 40 leading security commanders. Egypt also plans to send at least 90
trainers to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
PA officials said Arafat has warned his commanders and aides not to
cooperate with Egypt. They said Arafat has threatened those who have
appeared to support Egyptian demands for security reform and a reduction in
the role of the PA chairman.
In late May, Arafat expelled National Security Adviser Brig. Gen. Jibril
Rajoub from a meeting after the chairman accused Rajoub of working against
him. Arafat, shouting to Rajoub, "Animal, get out," accused his adviser of
bad-mouthing him during a recent visit to Cairo.
Arafat was also said to be considering replacing his longtime adviser
and spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh. Officials said Abu Rudeineh has come
under intense criticism from Arafat and his aides for failing to defend the
chairman in the Arab media.
Egypt has also discussed its security reform plan in the PA with
Palestinian insurgency groups based in Syria. The regime of President Hosni
Mubarak has sought a guarantee from the insurgency groups that Egyptian
forces along the
Egyptian-Gaza border would not be attacked.
Publicly, Arafat has embraced the Egyptian plan and sent a letter to
this effect to Mubarak on June 7. Officials said the PA chairman promised
Egypt to announce the appointment of a PA security chief on June 15.
But officials said Arafat has quietly urged the Islamic opposition
movement, Hamas, to oppose the Israeli withdrawal plan as well as the
Egyptian demands for the restructuring of the PA security forces. In the
Gaza Strip, Arafat has also organized demonstrations against Egypt.
At the same time, the PA chairman appears concerned that a leading PA
security commander, Maj. Gen. Abdul Razik Al Majaydeh, has been targeting PA
officers in the Gaza Strip for dismissal in accordance with the Egyptian
plan. Last week, more than 130 officers from the PA National Forces, who
staged a mutiny in Dir Al Balah, demanded the resignation of Al Majaydeh,
accusing him of corruption and failing to fight Israel's military in the
Al Majaydeh quickly reacted and on June 4, his National Forces
distributed a communique that accused military intelligence chief Mussa
Arafat, the nephew of the PA chairman, of seeking to torpedo the Egyptian
campaign. The communique said Mussa Arafat encouraged the 130 officers to
mutiny by offering them promotions and money.
Officials said Egypt has identified 40 PA security officers for
dismissal. They said the officers comprise the top four levels of the PA
On June 7, two Palestinian security officers were injured in a shootout
between PA security units in the northern Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources
said the clash was between the National Security Forces and Military
So far, the commander of PA police in the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Haj
Ismail, has resigned. Officials said Ismail was angered by Arafat's
treatment, but Arafat aides said the police commander was accused of
stealing $2.5 million in funds meant for his troops.