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Friday, November 24, 2000
Ha'aretz: White Paper tiger unleashed

By Aluf Benn Ha'aretz 24 November 2000

[IMRA: The document is available
http://join.Ha'aretz: White Paper tiger unleashed

By Aluf Benn Ha'aretz 24 November 2000

[IMRA: The document is available
http://join.virtual.co.il/cgi-win/imra.exe/0011213
http://join.virtual.co.il/cgi-win/imra.exe/00112113 ]


The most notable change so far in the Barak government's policy toward the
Palestinian Authority became public on Monday when it released a White Paper
charging that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat has persistently violated agreements
and encouraged incitement and violence.

Publication of the White Paper has been greeted with consternation and
skepticism by American and European officials. In private these American and
European critics have sharply criticized Barak's government for disclosing
the document and are wondering if Israel has officially decided to abandon
Arafat as a partner in the peace process.

Neither has the White Paper dispute been confined to overseas detractors.
Its preparation and release stirred a blazing controversy within the
government itself. The internal dissent delayed the document's disclosure
for a month and led to some modification of its more sharply formulated
contents. Despite this attempted softening, the internal arguments about the
document did not end when PM Ehud Barak approved its release.

Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami has serious doubts about the wisdom of a
policy turnaround that aims at planting the full onus of blame squarely on
Arafat, and the Foreign Ministry originally declined to disseminate the
White Paper to diplomatic missions overseas.

The no-distribution policy created confusion among diplomats abroad. Yehuda
Yaakov, the spokesman at the Israeli consulate in New York, sent a message
to Jerusalem complaining he had been obliged to read about the document in
The New York Times.

After a stormy session involving its top officials on Tuesday, the ministry
decided to circulate the document to its diplomats overseas. It attached a
cooly worded cover letter suggesting they "make use of [the White Paper] as
you see fit."

The government public affairs coordinator Nahman Shai, who sponsored the
release of the White Paper after the Kfar Darom attack, believes that the
Foreign Ministry's reluctance to propagate the document is a mistake.

Barak decided to launch a public campaign against Arafat after a discussion
he held a month ago with intelligence and Foreign Ministry officials.
Colonel Eran Lerman from military intelligence was put in charge of
compiling data and drafting the document in English. A number of passages,
including a harsh denunciations of alleged corruption among top PA
officials, including Arafat, were omitted from the final version, several
sources say.

The White Paper charges that Arafat "has never taken off his military
uniform, which symbolizes his status as a revolutionary officer." It cites
his persistent use of jihad terminology to describe the militant nature of
the Palestinian struggle. Speaking to "secular-oriented audiences," the
document says, "Arafat stresses the temporary, conditional character of his
[peace agreement] obligations and alludes to the stages theory for the
liberation of Palestine."

The aim of the current wave of Fatah-Tanzim violence, the document states,
is to attain Arafat's maximal diplomatic goals and "to prevent
reconciliation with a successful conclusion to negotiations."

The document details a long list of Palestinian abrogations from agreements.
It alleges that the PA has directly sponsored violence, has adopted an
ambivalent attitude toward terrorism while condoning Hamas extremism, has
not collected illegal firearms, has sponsored violent incitement, has
conducted foreign policy in violation of interim agreement obligations, has
infringed economic agreements, has condoned large-scale criminal activities
(especially car theft and tax fraud), and has failed to guard places sacred
to Jews. The IDF Military Intelligence is currently updating the White
Paper, incorporating findings about direct or indirect PA involvement in
this week's terrorist attacks at Kfar Darom and Hadera.

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