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Friday, October 19, 2001
Excerpts: Bin Laden and Palestinian internal conflict. Bin Laden and Palestinian internal conflict 19 October 2001

Excerpts: Bin Laden and Palestinian internal conflict. Bin Laden and
Palestinian internal conflict 19 October 2001

+++ AL-AHRAM WEEKLY 11 - 17 Oct.'01:"War among 'ourselves'"

HEADING:" A day after Osama Bin Laden linked attacks on Afghanistan with the
reality of Palestine came a trail of Palestinian-on-Palestinian blood.
GRAHAM USHER writes from Jerusalem

QUOTES FROM TEXT: "Osama Bin Ladfen...`neither the US or he who lives in the
US will enjoy security before we can see it as a reality in Palestine.' "

"And in Gaza...Palestinian students affiliated with...Hamas...decided that
the next day they would protest, in the teeth of a ban on public
demonstrations, ... `the war against Islam'.

"police opened up with live ammunition, in a `reckless and unlawful use of
lethal force,' said Amnesty International."

"Arafat responded...with a by-now-familiar repetoire... .One was absence and
abdication. In Cairo ... he flew on to Bahrain."

"they want some form of accountability over those who ruile them, whether
Israeli or Palestinian. The factions so far have only given them the `unity
of slogans'. Arafat refuse to giver them reform." ==========

EXCERPTS: On Sunday night the US and Britain pitched their first Tomahawks
into Kabul.

Osama Bin Laden "swore by Almighty God" that "neither the US nor he who
lives in the US will enjoy security before we can see it as a reality in
Palestine."

And in Gaza a group of Palestinian students affiliated with the Islamist
Hamas movement decided that the next day they would protest, in the teeth of
a ban on public demonstrations issued by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian
Authority, "the war against Islam."

None of this was good news for the Palestinian leadership. It has adopted a
stance of studied agnosticism toward the strikes on Afghanistan, torn
between the antagonism of its people to US foreign policy and the damage
caused by those televised images of Palestinians "celebrating" the carnage
in America on 11 September.

"I heard what Bin Laden said," commented Palestinian Minister Yasser Abed
Rabbo, walking the tightrope in the first official Palestinian response.
"And it is true there is oppression, terrorism and killing committed in
Palestine every day. But this doesn't justify or give cover for anyone to
kill or terrorise civilians in Washington or New York or any other place".

But many Palestinians were inspired by Bin Laden's "linkage," among them the
several thousand students assembled on the campus of Gaza's Islamic
University on Monday. Some carried small portraits of Bin Laden. Many
chanted in his honour.

And all marched towards the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City.
Some 300 metres from the campus they were met by a phalanx of Palestinian
police ...

Some protesters threw stones. The police stormed the demonstration, firing
off tear gas and attacking the students with batons. The fighting worsened
... .. . . . According to the PA, "suspicious elements" and "masked men"
from among the demonstrators fired on the police. According to the
university administration and eyewitnesses -- including observers from
Palestinian and international human rights groups -- the police opened up
with live ammunition, in a "reckless and unlawful use of lethal force," said
Amnesty International.

Three Palestinians were killed (among them 13-year old Abdullah Franji), 120
students were injured, including 18 from live bullets. Twenty police
officers were wounded, all from stones or tear gas inhalation. And the
violence spread like wildfire.

Palestinians attacked PA police stations in Gaza's Shati refugee camp, ... .
A PA civil aviation office was put to the torch and the Palestinian airlines
building was sacked. Ten Palestinians were arrested.

... It was the most dangerous internal fracture since the Palestinian police
shot dead 14 of their kin outside Gaza's Palestine mosque in November 1994,
triggered by protests born of similar frustration and crushed by similar
means.

And Arafat responded to the crisis with a by-now-familiar repertoire of
responses. One was absence and abdication. In Cairo at the time of the clash
he flew onto Bahrain.

He would not be drawn on the Bin Laden "linkage." "I don't interfere in
those matters," he sniffed. "Israel's measures against Palestinians," he
said, were "terrorism," referring to the four Palestinians killed by the
Israeli army on Monday in Gaza. But as for the Palestinian-on- Palestinian
violence in what has become his hometown -- not a word.

He left it to his movement, Fatah, to put his house together again (another
of Arafat's well-honed responses). In an emergency Monday night meeting with
the other Palestinian factions, including Hamas, a "unified" statement was
agreed.

This declared that National and Islamic Forces were "pained" by the "sad
incidents"... . They called for an official investigation into who opened
fire first. It stated that "what happened today in Gaza was against our
Intifada" which, not for the first time, became a talisman to steer revolt
back to the Israeli enemy and away from the regime.

The PA once again agreed to establish an inquiry into its abuses, amid
rumours that Arafat had suspended the PA police chief in Gaza, Ghazi Jabali,
who presumably gave the order for his officers' use of live ammunition.

But neither was Arafat taking any chances, aware perhaps that the
factions -- one year into the Intifada -- have about as much control over
the people as he does. Palestinian police closed all Gaza schools,
confiscated all footage of the clash, barred foreign journalists from
entering Palestinian areas in Gaza and threw a dragnet around the "closed
military zone" that is now the Islamic and Al-Azhar university campuses.

The message was plain: he would prefer order to be restored by a "national
consensus" if possible. But it will be imposed by force if necessary.

Will this work? Perhaps, for a time. Can it hold? No. Unlike in 1994 today
Arafat can only exert his will on Palestinians in return for some tangible
improvement in their lives. The alternative is to risk a bloody domestic
showdown that, were it to "succeed," would destroy what remains of his
nationalist legitimacy or, were it to fail, would expedite the end of his
regime.

The consensus among Palestinians is that he will take neither road. Like the
factions he will appeal instead to the "unity of Palestinian blood" and look
for deliverance elsewhere, perhaps in the shape of greater American
"engagement" with and against Ariel Sharon.

Palestinians want unity: they know civil war is the worse that can happen to
them. But they also want reform, of the Intifada and of their lives. Above
all, they want some form of accountability over those who rule them, whether
Israeli or Palestinian. The factions so far have given them only the "unity
of slogans." Arafat refuses to give them reform. And Israel under Sharon
gives them nothing except the most ruthless colonial repression.

[IMRA: Arafat could change this by ending the intifada.]

Put these together -- stir in Osama Bin Laden and the attacks on
Afghanistan -- and something, some time, is going to give. And every
Palestinian is aware of which is the more mortal collapse. "We can survive
Sharon's war against us," said a Palestinian woman in Gaza, three weeks ago.
"We cannot survive a war among ourselves".

+++ AL-AHRAM WEEKLY 11 - 17 Oct.'01:"War among 'ourselves'"

HEADING:" A day after Osama Bin Laden linked attacks on Afghanistan with the
reality of Palestine came a trail of Palestinian-on-Palestinian blood.
GRAHAM USHER writes from Jerusalem

QUOTES FROM TEXT: "Osama Bin Ladfen...`neither the US or he who lives in the
US will enjoy security before we can see it as a reality in Palestine.' "

"And in Gaza...Palestinian students affiliated with...Hamas...decided that
the next day they would protest, in the teeth of a ban on public
demonstrations, ... `the war against Islam'.

"police opened up with live ammunition, in a `reckless and unlawful use of
lethal force,' said Amnesty International."

"Arafat responded...with a by-now-familiar repetoire... .One was absence and
abdication. In Cairo ... he flew on to Bahrain."

"they want some form of accountability over those who ruile them, whether
Israeli or Palestinian. The factions so far have only given them the `unity
of slogans'. Arafat refuse to giver them reform." ==========

EXCERPTS: On Sunday night the US and Britain pitched their first Tomahawks
into Kabul.

Osama Bin Laden "swore by Almighty God" that "neither the US nor he who
lives in the US will enjoy security before we can see it as a reality in
Palestine."

And in Gaza a group of Palestinian students affiliated with the Islamist
Hamas movement decided that the next day they would protest, in the teeth of
a ban on public demonstrations issued by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian
Authority, "the war against Islam."

None of this was good news for the Palestinian leadership. It has adopted a
stance of studied agnosticism toward the strikes on Afghanistan, torn
between the antagonism of its people to US foreign policy and the damage
caused by those televised images of Palestinians "celebrating" the carnage
in America on 11 September.

"I heard what Bin Laden said," commented Palestinian Minister Yasser Abed
Rabbo, walking the tightrope in the first official Palestinian response.
"And it is true there is oppression, terrorism and killing committed in
Palestine every day. But this doesn't justify or give cover for anyone to
kill or terrorise civilians in Washington or New York or any other place".

But many Palestinians were inspired by Bin Laden's "linkage," among them the
several thousand students assembled on the campus of Gaza's Islamic
University on Monday. Some carried small portraits of Bin Laden. Many
chanted in his honour.

And all marched towards the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City.
Some 300 metres from the campus they were met by a phalanx of Palestinian
police ...

Some protesters threw stones. The police stormed the demonstration, firing
off tear gas and attacking the students with batons. The fighting worsened
... .. . . . According to the PA, "suspicious elements" and "masked men"
from among the demonstrators fired on the police. According to the
university administration and eyewitnesses -- including observers from
Palestinian and international human rights groups -- the police opened up
with live ammunition, in a "reckless and unlawful use of lethal force," said
Amnesty International.

Three Palestinians were killed (among them 13-year old Abdullah Franji), 120
students were injured, including 18 from live bullets. Twenty police
officers were wounded, all from stones or tear gas inhalation. And the
violence spread like wildfire.

Palestinians attacked PA police stations in Gaza's Shati refugee camp, ... .
A PA civil aviation office was put to the torch and the Palestinian airlines
building was sacked. Ten Palestinians were arrested.

... It was the most dangerous internal fracture since the Palestinian police
shot dead 14 of their kin outside Gaza's Palestine mosque in November 1994,
triggered by protests born of similar frustration and crushed by similar
means.

And Arafat responded to the crisis with a by-now-familiar repertoire of
responses. One was absence and abdication. In Cairo at the time of the clash
he flew onto Bahrain.

He would not be drawn on the Bin Laden "linkage." "I don't interfere in
those matters," he sniffed. "Israel's measures against Palestinians," he
said, were "terrorism," referring to the four Palestinians killed by the
Israeli army on Monday in Gaza. But as for the Palestinian-on- Palestinian
violence in what has become his hometown -- not a word.

He left it to his movement, Fatah, to put his house together again (another
of Arafat's well-honed responses). In an emergency Monday night meeting with
the other Palestinian factions, including Hamas, a "unified" statement was
agreed.

This declared that National and Islamic Forces were "pained" by the "sad
incidents"... . They called for an official investigation into who opened
fire first. It stated that "what happened today in Gaza was against our
Intifada" which, not for the first time, became a talisman to steer revolt
back to the Israeli enemy and away from the regime.

The PA once again agreed to establish an inquiry into its abuses, amid
rumours that Arafat had suspended the PA police chief in Gaza, Ghazi Jabali,
who presumably gave the order for his officers' use of live ammunition.

But neither was Arafat taking any chances, aware perhaps that the
factions -- one year into the Intifada -- have about as much control over
the people as he does. Palestinian police closed all Gaza schools,
confiscated all footage of the clash, barred foreign journalists from
entering Palestinian areas in Gaza and threw a dragnet around the "closed
military zone" that is now the Islamic and Al-Azhar university campuses.

The message was plain: he would prefer order to be restored by a "national
consensus" if possible. But it will be imposed by force if necessary.

Will this work? Perhaps, for a time. Can it hold? No. Unlike in 1994 today
Arafat can only exert his will on Palestinians in return for some tangible
improvement in their lives. The alternative is to risk a bloody domestic
showdown that, were it to "succeed," would destroy what remains of his
nationalist legitimacy or, were it to fail, would expedite the end of his
regime.

The consensus among Palestinians is that he will take neither road. Like the
factions he will appeal instead to the "unity of Palestinian blood" and look
for deliverance elsewhere, perhaps in the shape of greater American
"engagement" with and against Ariel Sharon.

Palestinians want unity: they know civil war is the worse that can happen to
them. But they also want reform, of the Intifada and of their lives. Above
all, they want some form of accountability over those who rule them, whether
Israeli or Palestinian. The factions so far have given them only the "unity
of slogans." Arafat refuses to give them reform. And Israel under Sharon
gives them nothing except the most ruthless colonial repression.

[IMRA: Arafat could change this by ending the intifada.]

Put these together -- stir in Osama Bin Laden and the attacks on
Afghanistan -- and something, some time, is going to give. And every
Palestinian is aware of which is the more mortal collapse. "We can survive
Sharon's war against us," said a Palestinian woman in Gaza, three weeks ago.
"We cannot survive a war among ourselves".

Dr. Joseph Lerner, Co-Director IMRA

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