Arafat Losing Hold on His People

(Baltimore Sun) Peter Hermann - A deadly three-year uprising against Israel by Palestinian militias, some supported or encouraged by Arafat, has not produced any tangible victories. Instead of loosening Israel's hold on the West Bank and Gaza, the militant groups have undercut Palestinian officials and created a lawless society in which citizens complain more about the armed gangs than about Israeli soldiers. A growing number of Palestinians regard Arafat as a barrier to reforms. Qadura Faris, a senior member of Arafat's Fatah Party, acknowledges that the Palestinian leadership has no vision for obtaining a peaceful future and lacks the ability to govern. The Palestinian Authority exists, its critics say, only because it manages to pay the salaries of its 140,000 workers, thanks largely to the contributions of $1.3 billion from donor countries over the past three years. "A lot of people are waiting for Arafat to die," said Jon Alterman, who directs the Middle East program of the Center of Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

2004-06-16 00:00:00

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