[Notes below by Tom Gross]
The London Daily Mirror today publishes an interview with Yasser Arafat, which was conducted yesterday.
Arafat refuses to label Hamas a terrorist group – even though he did so only last Sunday in his infamous op-ed in The New York Times (an op-ed that was reprinted in the London Guardian and other newspapers on Monday).
The stand expressed by Arafat in his op-ed also contrasts starkly to other public statements he has made both before and since then.
For example, in his speech on January 26 to visiting Arab leaders, which was broadcast on that evening's official PA Television news, Arafat said "Yes, brothers, with our souls and blood we redeem you, O Palestine… Allah is great! Glory to Allah and his prophet! Jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad!"
The Daily Mirror interview, and the paper's editorial on it are to be found at:
For more information on Yasser Arafat’s op-ed in The New York Times please see the dispatch titled Former U.S. Consul Abington and an Israeli "wrote Arafat’s New York Times op-ed" (Feb. 9, 2002).
SUMMARY OF DAILY MIRROR INTERVIEW WITH ARAFAT
In The Daily Mirror interview itself, Alexandra Williams described Arafat's response to the pertinent question, "are Hamas and other extremist Arab groups, terrorists?":
He smiles at me across his desk and mumbles almost inaudibly. He shifts a little in his chair. "All those groups who are working against our decisions have been outlawed. We have arrested those in the military wings," he responds.
But do you consider them to be terrorist groups, I repeat. His eyes fix me and he snaps back. "You will have to ask the Israelis because the Israelis are the ones who established Hamas."
I am asking you, I say. The voice is even but firm. "Ask the Israelis."
Asking the question whether Arafat really wants peace, the Mirror notes that Arafat says he wants it, but that Sharon is not the only one who "is not interested in the Palestinian leader's honeyed words. He demands action [and] the world wants to see that too".
The paper argues that, "in the current situation, there will be no step forward unless Yasser Arafat makes the first move. As long as he remains the Palestinians' leader, he is in an unrivalled position of power and influence. On how he uses it depends the future of the Middle East. Yasser Arafat could be the architect of peace or the destroyer of his people's hopes."
ARAFAT JOINS TOM FRIEDMAN AS NEW YORK TIMES COMMENT WRITER
The Daily Mirror interview comes only three days after Arafat's New York Times editorial on Sunday, which was carried under the headline "The Palestinian Vision of Peace."
The article managed to go on at some length about the Palestinian Arab "vision of peace" without making any reference to or mention of the ship owned by the Palestinian Authority and staffed by its naval officers that was recently seized while smuggling tons of Iranian arms into the supposedly demilitarized Palestinian Authority.
The article also claims that "The 1993 Oslo Accord, signed on the White House lawn, promised the Palestinians freedom by May 1999." The 1993 Oslo Accord "promised" the Palestinian Arabs nothing of the sort. The word "freedom" appears nowhere in its text.
As Malcolm Hoenlein, a subscriber to this email list, told Tim Sebastian on the BBC's Hardtalk program: "Arafat says in Arabic to his people jihad, jihad, jihad and then writes [about] peace in the New York Times."
Below is another item on Arafat's op-ed.
-- Tom Gross
ARAFAT'S NY TIMES OP-ED DISMISSED AS "PUBLICITY STUNT"
Arafat's NY Times op-ed dismissed as "publicity stunt"
Arutz Sheva News Service
February 3, 2002
Yasser Arafat's op-ed in today's New York Times has been dismissed by Prime Minister's Office as a "worthless publicity stunt." The terrorist leader's article began, "For the past 16 months, Israelis and Palestinians have been locked in a catastrophic cycle of violence..." - a formulation designed to distract readers' attention from the fact that the violence was initiated at the express orders of Yasser Arafat himself. Israeli security leaders have quoted much evidence to this effect over the past months.
Arafat wrote, "I condemn that attacks carried out by terrorist groups against Israeli civilians. These groups do not represent the Palestinian people... I am determined to put an end to their activities." This stands in stark contrast to many public statements uttered by the PA chairman very recently. For instance, speaking to a delegation of Arab leaders that was broadcast on official PA Television this past January 26, Arafat said, "Yes, brothers, with our souls and blood we redeem you, O Palestine. This is the decision of the people of exceeding strength. This is a sacred bond. We are up to this duty. You know I am saying this because I know our people. I know what it means that in the midst of this economic crisis, yet none of them complained. However, they said: Allah is great! Glory to Allah and his prophet! Jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad!"
WAFA IDRIS CARRIED SUICIDE BOMB IN RED CRESCENT AMBULANCE
Red Crescent ambulance believed to have brought woman bomber to Jerusalem
By Amos Harel
February 6, 2002
Wafa Idris, the Ramallah woman killed when a bomb she carried into downtown Jerusalem exploded last month, reached the capital by a Red Crescent ambulance, according to senior IDF officers.
One Israeli was killed and more than 100 wounded in the bombing. The investigation so far indicates she did not intend to deploy the bomb in a suicide attack, but may have been planning to pass it on to another person.
Idris was a volunteer in the Red Crescent society, part of an ambulance team that has treated hundreds of Palestinian casualties during the intifada. A senior security source said last night that according to information in his possession, the woman made her way from Ramallah to Jerusalem in an ambulance that passed through the Kalaniya checkpoint north of the capital.
Shin Bet officers say they have similar information, but have not yet been able to confirm it.