Yasser Arafat told Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak yesterday he will accept Egyptian demands for Palestinian security reforms, but the PLO leader would not agree to step down or move to another Arab country as he was asked to, Palestinian sources tell WND.
However, Mubarak immediately responded that Arafat’s reply is not sufficient.
This exchange comes one week after Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman met privately with Arafat to demand that he 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.
Suleiman reportedly told the aging PLO leader he had until June 15 to relent, or else his future would be “left in the hands of Ariel Sharon.”
Palestinian officials would not divulge what kinds of reforms Arafat claimed he would accept in his reply, just that Arafat agreed to allow an Egyptian role in Gaza after an Israeli pullout.
One source close to Arafat said the PLO leader wrote a very general letter, and also made it clear that he had no intention of stepping down, assuming a more symbolic role, or accepting deportation to another Arab country.
But Mubarak immediately instructed his ministers to tell Palestinian and Israeli officials that Arafat’s letter was not sufficient and that a more specific letter, one accepting all of Egypt’s’ demands and detailing an exact reform plan, was needed.
Israeli officials say Arafat takes Mubarak more seriously than any other world leader, and is likely to be responsive to his demands.
Arafat has many times agreed to reform security forces, clamp down on terror organizations and relinquish power to a prime minister, but has never followed through.
Arafat still controls most Palestinian security forces, and maintains enormous influence over terror organizations, including his own Fatah.