Wednesday, September 25, 2002

“…the Palestinian leadership, and behind it the Arab political and media atmosphere, have not risen to the level required in order to make a [correct historic] choice.”
MEMRI has translated excerpts of an article by liberal Egyptian author Amin Al-Mahdi, that was published in London-based, Arabic language Al-Hayat. He discusses the mistake Arafat made in not accepting the deal offered him in Camp David in the summer of 2000:

"When Arafat returned from Camp David, his masses carried him on their shoulders as a symbol of respect for his achieving nothing. The Arab propaganda apparatuses and the statements by top officials in some Arab countries played a significant role in these strange festivities. It was the right moment to add conditions making the problem irresolvable, such as adherence to the refugees' right of return to Israel – meaning, simply, the establishment of two Palestinian states. Furthermore, a demagogic attack lacking any objective basis [was launched] against Clinton and the U.S. policy (there are many reasons to criticize American policy, but I do not think that Clinton's peace plan was one of them)."

Al-Mahdi ties Arafat’s failure in with the bigger picture:

"...In my personal opinion, no matter what peace proposal Clinton presented to the Arab side, it was sure to be rejected. This is because the Palestinian issue was always the main source of legitimacy for the revolutionary [Arab] regimes that established rural or tribal military republics. The Palestinian issue was always the subject of 'Announcement No. 1' of all these [Arab military coups]. More important, it was the prop for the war declared on democracy and modernization [by the Arab regimes], an eternal pretext for the bill of divorce from the free world and for imposing various laws, from emergency laws through military laws."