Rumors that Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon responsible for Arafat’s death false.
by Dov Weisglass
Yasser Arafat died six years ago. Ariel Sharon viewed him as one of Israel’s worst enemies and held him responsible for the outbreak of the second Intifada. Hence, we invested great diplomatic efforts in order to convince the world, and mostly the US Administration, of the vital need to keep him away from ruling the Palestinian Authority in practice – for the sake of the Israelis, the Palestinians, and mostly for salvaging what appeared as a slim chance for peace at the time.
We explained that even if Arafat does not “squeeze the trigger” himself, he creates a culture of terror, nurtures a regime of armed gangs, guides and encourages murders and riots, and mostly, funds terror. We handed over plenty of information on these issues to the Americans. His lies in denying his involvement in purchasing the Karin A weapon-smuggling ship combined with accurate Israeli intelligence information about his personal role in funding a specific terror attack prompted the US Administration to conclude that as long as Arafat is in place, there will be no peace, security, or calm.
As a result of this, President George W. Bush declared in June 2002 that a different Palestinian leadership was needed, urging the Palestinian people to choose a new leadership that does not accept terror.
The absolute American boycott, the ongoing pressure on European leaders to join it, and Israel’s decision to shun any global visitors who came to meet him combined to remove Arafat from the decisive position of influence he held up until then. Simultaneously, a different, responsible leadership emerged in the PA that succeeded, among other things due to massive global aid, to bring quiet, security, stability, and economic prosperity. All of that would not have happened under Arafat’s rule.
Operation called off
Even though Sharon viewed the termination of Arafat’s active leadership as a vital political and security need, he never permitted to physically harm him. All the rumors that Israel is “responsible” for his death are foolish lies. I recall that at the end of 2003, Israel was discussing a certain military move within Arafat’s offices. Once the army made it clear to Sharon that the site held dozens of gunmen and that Arafat may be hurt in the gunfight, the operation was called off.
Even after Arafat fell ill, Sharon acted decently towards him. In a late-night meeting, during a meeting in Brussels with EU foreign minister Javier Solana, an urgent phone call was received from a senior Palestinian official. Arafat is very sick and must be taken out of Ramallah for medical tests. His office is surrounded by IDF forces. Will Israel permit him to leave?
I phoned Sharon at his home, and he promptly gave his approval. The next day, Solana called again: The doctors believed Arafat’s illness is grave and he must be flown to Europe. Will Israel allow him to depart, and most importantly, to return? I called Sharon from the train en route to London. He asked for some time to weigh the request. He explained that according to the defense establishment, Arafat’s medical condition is not that grave, and added that “we have no interest in him again traveling in Europe and worldwide.”
Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official who maintained good ties with us called, and said that according to the doctors Arafat is about to die. Should this happen in Ramallah, after Israel prevented treatment abroad, he said, “just like for 2,000 years you were trying to explain that you did not crucify Jesus, for the next 2,000 years you will be explaining that you are not responsible for Arafat’s death.”
I phoned Sharon and informed him of this. He sure knew how to make a decision: “Inform Solana that we’ll permit him to leave,” he ruled immediately. This happened, and the rest is history.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -