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PALESTINIAN INTIFADA #3?

Analyst Shalom Harari:
'Palestinians May Launch Intifada #3 In September Or Toward End of the Year!'

'Palestinian President Abu Mazen
Is Doing Almost Nothing To End Chaos In The Palestinian Street'

'Abu Mazen Gives Orders
But Old Guard Of Yasser Arafat Does Nothing To Carry Them Out'

Broadcast April 15th, 2005 on IsraCast.com



Mahmoud Abbas

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has returned home from the Crawford summit with the future of the Roadmap peace process still in doubt. Sharon demands that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) start dismantling the terrorist organizations, which launched over 80 Qassam rockets and mortars at Israeli settlements and IDF positions in the Gaza Strip earlier in the week. In an effort to shore up Abu Mazen, President George W. Bush is sending out two top officials to try and shore up the shaky Palestinian leader.

For an assessment of the current situation, ISRACAST interviewed one of Israel's top experts on the Palestinian Authority and leadership, IDF Brig. Gen. (Reserve) Shalom Harari of the Herzylia Inter-Disciplinary Center.

Shalom Harari was interviewed by David Essing:

Listen to the Interview (9:20)

David Essing - Brig. Gen. Shalom Harari, welcome to Isracast.
Is Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas or Abu-Mazen really a very weak leader or is he simply trying to evade the demand of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to crack down on the terrorists?

Shalom Harari - I think that Abu-Mazen is still not in a position to make real steps in reorganizing the forces in the field because he doesn't have enough of what the Palestinians call "Sharaiyeh" which is legitimacy. The reason is that the elections in which he was elected were boycotted by at least 40-45 percent of the Palestinian population and even if he was elected by 62 percent still they tell him, his opponents, that this is not the whole Palestinian people that went to the ballot, that only a small portion of 30 percent went to vote; so the most that he can declare is that he is the leader of the ‘Fatah’ organization which is the biggest organization inside the PLO. But the Islamic camp says, gentleman, we are not in the camp of the PLO, we are outside, we are still not in. So the most you, Abu-Mazen, can say is that you represent the ‘Fatah’, which is very divided, very split with a lot of inside wars including very violent ones with shooting. So he is not a strong leader.

David Essing - So in your opinion sir, what should be done now? What can Israel do to bolster Abu-Mazen because Israel did pull out of two towns, out of Jericho and Tul Kerem, but the Israelis now claim that Abu-Mazen has not taken control and the terrorists there still walk freely in the streets with their weapons.

Shalom Harari - Israel can make some steps that can help him to some extent, but I don’t think any help that we'll talk about would be able to really build him in his own constituency. Israel can for example release very big number of prisoners according to the criteria that the Palestinians demand, for example women, or those who have blood on their hands but did the terror operations before Oslo, or youngsters who committed terror under the age of 16. That for example is one of the things that can help. Israel can try and help him with financial aid so he'll be able to pay those who are unemployed, and that's actually what is done in the field. And by the way Israel released hundreds of the prisoners and they demand more. Israel can declare a bigger number of workers that will go out to work in Israel, but still, all these steps, no matter how good, are not enough in order to build him inside his own constituency, it can only help.

David Essing - You seem to be saying that in your view Abu-Mazen may be a lost cause, there's nothing that's going to be able to make him into the kind of 'take-charge' leader that Israel is demanding, that the world is demanding.

Shalom Harari - No doubt that Abu-Mazen does not have the legitimacy that Arafat used to have and he is not what they call ‘Marjaiyeh’ which means in plain English - a source of decision, someone to whom you approach and he can give directives and they are implemented. In order to build it, he still needs to pass all these campaigns of elections that are still ahead until the end of the year or at least until September. We still have elections for the municipal bodies, the big campaigns that are going on now, and we'll know the results somewhere around the 5th or the 6th of the next month, these elections are very crucial. We have the elections for the Chambers of commerce in July, and then the real game in town, the elections for the parliament which ‘Hamas’ threatened to join. I say threaten because if they join it they might show that they have a bigger portion inside the parliament than even the Fatah. And the last obstacle that he should jump over is of course the big convention of the ‘Fatah’ that is planned on August. So all these campaigns and elections are not only important in order to make him a stronger leader, but they also restrict him from any real step in the field because if he will do what some of the Palestinians call unpopular steps, for example to get rid of 20,000 workers in the security system that do nothing and are over the age of 60, it can hurt him and his popularity very much.

David Essing - So we can expect these two top American officials who are coming to Israel and the Palestinian territories next week to try and put some kind of pressure on Prime Minister Sharon, do you think, to make more concessions to bolster Abu-Mazen?


Palestinian Chaos

Shalom Harari - I think that the pressure will go to both directions, first of all on Sharon to give more, and if you ask me, Sharon does not need this pressure, I think that most of his analysts and advisors tell him that anyhow we should try and help Abu-Mazen. But I think the American side knows the reality in the field. There's enough sources to understand and to know by themselves without the explanation of Israel, that Abu-Mazen after all has not done almost nothing, in order to stop the Fauda's, the chaos in the street and the chaos inside his security forces, and if he's not going to do it, nothing will come out. The decision for example to unite the security forces was issued yesterday, and I want to remind you that the same decision was taken by Abu-Mazen in his first period as Prime Minister and nothing came out of it, meaning that nothing was united. And even here, it's a decision, a declaration, very nice, the paper can suffer everything, but the question is who are the new figures, no one declared about new figures, that will run these three main centeralized bodies, so I'm very much afraid that we'll 'see the same movie' that we saw a year ago - nice declarations without any fulfillment in the field.

David Essing - So what about the future sir, are you holding out any optimism as to this process going anywhere and actually getting into the roadmap?

Shalom Harari - Not only myself but I think most of the Israeli security services assume that if Abu-Mazen and the people around him will continue to do nothing, we'll see somewhere on the end of September or maximum by the end of the year, the renewal of the violent operations of terrorism in very strong magnitude. You can call it ‘Intifada #3’ if you wish, and the reason is that after all, the Palestinian people in the streets are not blind, they see that he does nothing. You can see today lots of slogans on the walls that call Abu-Mazen to reorganize his forces and do something because not only Israelis suffer from this, also the regular Palestinian citizens in the streets suffer from this chaos, from this 'fauda'.

David Essing - But it won't be enough, this public opinion, to really get him to move do you think?


Security Shake-Up?

Shalom Harari - Well, it depends on the people that he will gather. One of the problems until today is that he has not built a real system around him; it's a one-man show. However strong he is, and you understand that he is not so strong, you need people around you to fulfill your orders, and one of the problems is that he gives orders but nobody fulfills them because the old generation, the Old Guard of Arafat, are still around him. He intends to get rid of some of them but generally I can say that most of the old figures are still in the field and with these old tools, he won't be able to work, and he needs new tools and very committed ones.

David Essing, ISRACAST, Jerusalem


Transcription done by Yael Yaffe-Last
Studio Production by Avi Yaffe Jerusalem Recording Studios LTD.

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