In a private meeting with Sen. John McCain, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas affirmed reports Yasser Arafat is undermining his authority.
The Republican from Arizona, part of a Middle East delegation of Washington lawmakers, gave the Jerusalem Post editorial board an account of his conversation with Abbas.
“The thing I said is, ‘Arafat is undermining you every way he can.’ He said, ‘that’s right,'” McCain recalled, according to the Post.
McCain, who met Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, asked the prime minister if it is true he has no authority over the Palestinian security forces.
Abbas said, “that’s right,” McCain recounted to the Jerusalem paper.
“He didn’t say it, but I had the distinct impression that he doesn’t feel that he’s strong enough to take [the terrorist groups] on,” McCain said.
McCain and his delegation are traveling to Iraq to assess reconstruction efforts and military needs.
Abbas, the key figure in the U.S.-led “road map to peace, threatened to resign last month, reflecting an internal split over negotiations with Israel.