By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
In an impromptu news conference in the Jordanian capital, Amman, on 12 July, Fatah Secretary-General Farouk Kaddumi revealed that Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas and former Gaza strongman Muhammed Dahlan conspired to murder Yasser Arafat in connivance with Israel and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Kaddumi disclosed that Arafat had confided to him the transcript of a secret meeting involving Abbas, Dahlan , US intelligence officials as well as former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The meeting allegedly took place in March 22, 2004.
According to the document, whose authenticity couldnâ€™t be verified independently, Sharon told Abbas and Dahlan during the meeting that Arafat should be killed by way of poisoning.
The transcript showed that Abbas protested, saying that murdering Arafat could complicate things and cause serious difficulties.
The Arabic version of the transcript showed Sharon saying the following to Abbas and Dahlan: â€˜To start with, we should kill all the military and political leaders of Hamas, Jihad, al-Aqsa Brigades and the Popular Front in order to create chaos within their ranks which would make it easier for you to finish them off.â€™
Sharon then allegedly responded to a suggestion by Dahlan to first abide by a â€˜period of calmâ€™ by saying:
â€˜As long as Arafat is still sitting in the Muqataâ€™a in Ramallah, you will definitely fail, because this cunning fox will surprise you all, as he has done in the past, because he knows exactly what you want to do and he will work to make it fail.â€™
Sharon then added the following: â€˜The first step therefore should be to poison Arafat and to kill him. I donâ€™t want to send him into exile unless there are guarantees from the country that will take him to place him under house arrestâ€¦â€™
Later on in the transcript, Sharon allegedly mentions the names of senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders to be assassinated, including Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who was murdered by Israel on April 17, 2004.
The document presented by Kaddumi doesnâ€™t spell out the ultimate Israeli-American goal behind the liquidation of Arafat and the top leaders of the resistance. However, it is probably safe to deduce that endgame envisaged behind the alleged conspiracy was the creation of a collaborationist Palestinian regime whose central mission and raison dâ€™etre would be to bully the Palestinian masses into accepting a â€œpeace dealâ€ with Israel that would allow the latter to impose its will and conditions on the Palestinians.
Kaddumi is an important figure in Fatah, and it is difficult to dismiss his revelations as hallucinations as his opponents have done.
Nonetheless, it is hard to indict Abbas based on these revelations. However, it is also difficult to grant him a certificate of innocence, because Abbas is not beyond suspicion and is certainly not an impeccable figure.
I remember I spoke with Sakhr Habash, a close confidante of Yasser Arafat, two days before the latterâ€™s death, who told me that he was 100% sure that â€œthey killed him.â€
I pressed him to identify the killers, the people he was referring to. He said â€œyou know them, these people around him, the agents of Israel .â€
While one is prompted to speak cautiously about Abbasâ€™s alleged role in poisoning Arafat, that is if indeed the late Palestinian leader died of poisoning, one feels freer and more confident to speak about Dahlanâ€™s not-so-secret treacherous dealings with the Israelis and the Americans.
A few years ago, I remember I listened to a secret audio-taped briefing by Dahlan to some of his supporters at the al-Hurriya Radio in Gaza.
In the briefing, Dahlan was heard swearing to make Hamas regret the day it decided to take part in the elections of 2006.
â€œI will make them eat..expletive.., and if any Fatah guy dares participate in the Hamas government, I will know how to deal with him.â€
Dahlan made more horrifying remarks which one would prefer not mentioning because of their poor taste.
In 2008, the American magazine â€œVanity Fairâ€ published an extensive investigative report titled â€œHow the Bush Administration Lied to Congress and Armed Fatah to Provoke Palestinian Civil War Aiming to overthrow Hamas.â€
The report pointed out that the White House tried to organize the armed overthrow of the Hamas-led government after the Islamic liberation group swept Palestinian elections in 2006.
Obviously, Dahlan was the would-be coup leader whose job was to destroy Hamas, arrest or kill its leaders in collaboration with Israel.
According to the report, the Bush administration lied to Congress and boosted military support for Fatah in the aim of provoking a Palestinian civil war they thought Hamas would lose.
Vanity Fair dubbed the episode â€œIran Contra 2â€-a reference to the Reagan administrationâ€™s funding of the Nicaraguan Contras by covertly selling arms to Iran.
David Wurmser, a Bush administration official, was quoted in the report as saying that he believed that â€œHamasâ€™s seizure of power in Gaza last year might have likely been a preemptive measure against the anticipated US-backed coup.â€
In light, there is overwhelming evidence that Dahlan brazenly collaborated with the Israeli and American intelligence services against his own people just as it is amply clear that the current regime in Ramallah is collaborating, coordinating and conspiring with Israel to liquidate the resistance in the West Bank.
True, Abbas might argue that he played no part in plotting to murder Yasser Arafat. However, he and his regime in Ramallah canâ€™t deny the fact that their security agencies, now trained and armed under the supervision of the American intelligence officer Keith Dayton, have been closely collaborating with Israel for the purpose of eradicating all resistance activists in the West Bank.
Indeed, the recent killings in Qalqilya recently was a damning proof, if a proof were needed, that the PA regime is just another layer of the Israeli occupation.
This, coupled with the unmitigated inquisition of hounding, repression, arrest, dismissal from jobs, seizure and closure of institutions as well as the rampancy of torture which in many instances lead to cruel death demonstrates that the PA is working in concert with Israel to harm and undermine national Palestinian interests.
This alone, and irrespective of who poisoned Arafat, is sufficient to indict the present leadership in Ramallah for collaboration with Israel and treason.