ARAFAT, FROM ZENITH TO INFERNO
By Safa Haeri
Published Wednesday, August 25, 2004
By Safa Haeri
PARIS, 25 Aug. (IPS) In his last intervention at the Palestinian Legislative Council, or parliament, Yaser Arafat, the 75 years old Chairman of the Palestinian Authority gadmittedh to wide spread gcorruptionh and gmistakesh in his Administration and promised he would take measure to wipe out abuse of power.
This was the first time that the ageing leader was making such dramatic gconfessionsh in public, but failed to spell out concrete actions to reform a system based on nepotism, clientalism and favouritism.
We must show the courage to recognise our mistakes, there is no one free from mistakes, from me on down. Even the prophets made mistakes.
In an unconvincing effort to calm down the unrest in Gaza that has produced one of the strongest challenges to his authority since he returned from exile a decade ago, Mr. Arafat said gSome unacceptable mistakes have been made by our institutions and some have abused their positions and violated the trust that has been placed in themh.
Arafat accused Israel of trying to sabotage his government and of wrecking the peace process with its continued settlement activity and building of the West Bank separation barrier.
However, in his televised address from his decay and ruin office of Muqata, in Ramallah, where he is living in a semi-detained situation since three years, Abou Ammar, Arafatfs nom de guerre, also said that one shouldnft blame only the occupation.
"We must show the courage to recognise our mistakes," he said. "There is no one free from mistakes, from me on down. Even the prophets made mistakes", he said, as younger generation Palestinians denounced the chaos, lack of security, overlapping institutions, administrative corruption and long-postponed elections.
Mr. Arafat also admitted that "no real effort" had been made to enforce law and order and said, "More efforts and support should be made for the security of the people".
Without naming names, the Old Man, as the Palestinians call him affectively, went on telling lawmakers and the Palestinians at large, "Some mistakes have been made by our institutions and some have abused their positions and violated the trust placed in them". gNo one has been immune, starting from me downwardh, he pointed out.
Arafat expects them to take his word for it after all these years he refused to reform.
But when Abed Jawad Salah, a dissident legislator known for his unabated struggle to denounce corruption at ghigh positionsh interrupted Arafat charging him, "You are protecting them, Abou Amarh, he angrily shouted back, "I'm protecting them?". You better be careful!h
In a petition signed with some twenty other Palestinian personalities from the territories in 1999, Mr. Salah had strongly denounced the gtyrannicalh nature of the Palestinian administrative system and accused Arafat to have gopen the gates to exploitersh.
In response, he had been badly beaten up by the police.
A recent poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre, 90 per cent of the people questioned acknowledged the existence of corruption in the Palestinian Authority, with some 65 per cent of them describing it as gwide spread.
As to the identity of those behind the turmoil, 61.1% blamed elements inside Fatah, Yaser Arafatfs own organisation, while the rest are convinced that regional and international parties were involved.