Monday, November 22, 2004

Al-Quds editor: Arafat signed Oslo so Jews would flee "Palestine"

Yasser Arafat agreed to sign the Oslo Accords because he expected that the agreements would lead thousands of Jews to flee Israel.

Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi, said Arafat said so when they met in Tunis, days before he returned to the Gaza Strip. 'The man told me, 'Listen, Abdel Bari, I know that you are opposed to the Oslo Accords, but you must always remember what I'm going to tell you. The day will come when you will see thousands of Jews fleeing Palestine. I will not live to see this, but you will definitely see it in your lifetime. The Oslo Accords will help bring this about.''

Before Oslo, Atwan regularly met with Arafat but later became a harsh critic of the Accords and corruption in the Palestinian Authority. He repeatedly called on Arafat to resign.

'President Arafat was the one who established the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in response to the attempt to marginalize him after the failure of the Camp David summit,' Atwan added.

'At the summit, he faced immense pressure from Israel, the US and some Arab parties to compromise on Jerusalem. Ironically, some Arab leaders, including Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz, called Arafat demanding that he display flexibility on the issue of Jerusalem.'

Atwan said Arafat rejected Israel's offers at the summit 'because he wasn't prepared to sign a final agreement with the Jewish state. He was well aware that such an agreement would make him go down in history as a traitor because he would have to give up the right of return for the refugees and most of the sovereignty over east Jerusalem.'

Commenting on Arafat's hope that the Oslo Accords would force thousands of Jews to flee Israel, Atwan said: 'The Jews did not flee from Palestine by the thousands as President Arafat predicted. But they have started packing their bags to run away from the Gaza Strip and some settlements in the West Bank. There are also signs of emigration to Europe, the US and Canada following the suicide bombings and the sense of insecurity among Israelis.'