Egypt’s intelligence chief has warned Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to give up power or face possible deportation – or Israeli “removal” – according to a major Arab newspaper.
Meeting with Arafat in Ramallah yesterday, Egyptian Gen. Omar Suleiman demanded that Arafat turn over control of all security forces to Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, and give Qurei complete authority to conduct negotiations with Israel over Sharon’s unilateral disengagement plan, stated the report yesterday in the popular newspaper Al-Quds-al-Arabi.
Arafat reportedly was then told to step aside and allow new leaders to take over the Palestinian Authority.
If the demands are not met by June 15, states the Al-Quds-al-Arabi report, Arafat has been warned that his future would be “left in the hands of Ariel Sharon.”
The newspaper claims that although the demands were delivered by Egypt, they were drawn up by the U.S. and Israel.
Israel’s Security Cabinet last September passed a resolution to “remove” the Palestinian leader, but did not specify which actions would be taken.
A Likud minister who asked that his name be withheld explained to WND that if Arafat willingly stepped down, he would not be imprisoned, but likely would be offered deportation to an Arab state “until he finally dies.”
But Nabil Abu Rudeineh, senior aide to Arafat, told WND that while he cannot substantiate the contents of the Suleiman meeting, “everyone must realize that President Arafat is the elected official of the Palestinian Authority. No outside government has the right to interfere with the wishes of the Palestinians and their elected officials.”
The report, if true, marks a substantial departure in the relationship between Egypt and Arafat, whose original guerrilla organization was funded in part by Egyptian President Gemal Abdul Nasser. Egypt was also directly involved in bringing Arafat from Tunis to the Palestinian territories, where Arafat was built up as a national leader.
According to the account, a senior Palestinian official told Al-Quds-al-Arabi America is trying to force a peace plan on the Palestinians to cover up the “mess in Iraq” and improve its image in the Arab world.
The official also said Arafat intends to refuse the Egyptian demands.