Expert says Palestinian civil war possible : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

(18:25) Expert says Palestinian civil war possible

By Miriam Shaviv October, 11 2001

The decision of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to side with the American anti-terrorism coalition could bring about a Palestinian civil war, warned a local expert on Israeli-Palestinian relations.

"Strategically, Arafat now has to rein in the Muslim fundamentalists, but he has to find a way of doing this without provoking insurrection," Yoni Fighel of the International Policy Institute for Terrorism and the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya told "He cannot shoot his own people," he said, referring to the two Palestinians shot by PA security forces during a demonstration in favor of Osama bin Laden yesterday.

According to Fighel, who was the military governor of Jenin in the early 1990s, Arafat's best strategic option is to act only against those involved directly in terror, leaving Hamas' social infrastructure untouched. "He will win from all sides, because Israel might agree to implement the Mitchell Report and Tenet cease-fire plan, his image will improve in the international community, and he would avoid civil war."

In any case, the Palestinian terror organizations are likely to avoid performing major suicide bombings inside the Green Line in the near future, said Fighel, because "the association with the Twin Tower bombers would just be too strong.

"They are not on the presidential list of terrorist organizations, and they'd like to keep it that way. They also know Arafat would have to crack down on them, because he told Bush he was anti-terror."

Firing at the Israel army, on settlers and on settlements is likely to continue. "The world has become used to those activities, and it is unlikely to dramatically change the world's attitude to them," Fighel said, noting that the attack on Elei Sinai occurred after the September 11 plane hijackings.

Another prime target, this time for bin Laden, may be Jewish and Israeli assets in the Diaspora, Fighel speculated. "So far, the General Security Service has been pretty successful in preventing bin Laden from establishing an infrastructure in the territories," he said. "It would be easier for him to hurt Israel overseas."

He added that bin Laden is unlikely to help Hamas and Islamic Jihad in their local operations, or offer them financial help or training facilities, although they have expressed their support. "They share an ideology of Islamic fundamentalism, but Hamas is also a political nationalistic organization, with its own immediate agenda concerning [PA Chairman] Arafat, the other Arab countries and Israel that bin Laden does not share," Fighel said.

"He might use their networks to identify potential recruits to his organization, but he's unlikely to want to cooperate with them further."

The PA's reported arrest of a few terrorists on a list provided by Israel, and the crackdown against those taking part in pro-Osama bin Laden protests, is the by-product of American pressure on Arafat, according to Israeli diplomatic officials.

-- Swissrose (, October 11, 2001

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