Tension in Palestine amid Arafat death anniversary

A supporter of the Fatah movement attends a ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death. (AP)
Updated 13 November 2016
0

Tension in Palestine amid Arafat death anniversary

GAZA: Days after the 12th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leaders descended into new recriminations over who may have been involved in the demise of the former president.
Coming two weeks before a meeting that is expected to overhaul the leadership of Fatah, the party of Arafat and President Mahmoud Abbas, the accusations underscore a growing animosity that threatens the movement’s stability.
Speaking at a memorial on Thursday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas said he knew who was behind Arafat’s death and that an investigating panel would soon reveal its findings.
“The result will come out in the nearest time possible and you will be surprised to know who did it,” Abbas said. Although he stopped short of naming suspects, Abbas’s comments were widely seen as referring to his main political rival — Mohammad Dahlan, a former Fatah security chief.
Dahlan, a fierce Abbas critic who lives in self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates, took to Facebook on Saturday to point the finger at Abbas.
“He (Abbas) is not qualified to make accusations and he personally is in the circle of accusation and the sole beneficiary of Abu Ammar disappearance,” Dahlan wrote, referring to Arafat by his nickname. Abbas’s office could not be reached for comment.
Officials within Fatah are growing increasingly impatient with Abbas’s leadership and rival groups have been emerging ahead of a party congress, the first since 2009, set to take place this month.
Dahlan, 55, retains influence within Fatah’s revolutionary council and central committee — the equivalent of Fatah’s parliament.
Abbas, 81, is expected at the party congress to push for the election of a new central committee and revolutionary council that would be free of Dahlan loyalists.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab states have been pressuring Abbas to resolve divisions in Fatah and with the rival Hamas movement. Neighboring states and diplomats fear the festering divisions could lead to conflict.
Arafat, who signed the 1993 Oslo interim peace accord with Israel but led a deadly uprising after subsequent talks broke down in 2000, died in 2004 aged 75 in a French hospital four weeks after falling ill.
The official cause of death was a massive stroke, but French doctors were unable at the time to determine the origin of the illness and no autopsy was carried out. Palestinian leaders have blamed Israel. Israel denies involvement.


Israeli minister boasts his country has been ‘killing Iranians’

Updated 14 sec ago
0

Israeli minister boasts his country has been ‘killing Iranians’

  • Hanegbi accused Iran, Israel’s main enemy, of seeking to create “chaos” and “harm freedom of navigation”

JERUSALEM: An Israeli minister boasted Sunday that his country was the only one that “has been killing Iranians,” after tensions between Britain and Iran rose in the Gulf.
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi’s comments to public radio were a reference to Israeli strikes in neighboring Syria against Iranian and Hezbollah military targets.
But they came after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker on Friday, adding to tensions between Washington and Tehran linked to a 2015 nuclear deal.
Hanegbi accused Iran, Israel’s main enemy, of seeking to create “chaos” and “harm freedom of navigation.”
Asked if he feared that Israel would not receive the backing of the United States in the case of a conflict with Iran, Hanegbi suggested that Tehran would avoid such a scenario.
“Israel is the only country in the world that has been killing Iranians for two years,” he said.
“We strike the Iranians hundreds of times in Syria. Sometimes we acknowledge it and sometimes foreign reports reveal it.”
He added that the Iranians “understand that Israel means business.”
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets.
It has vowed to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily there.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in a similar vein last week with cadets at the national security college.
“At the moment, the only army in the world to fight Iran is the Israeli army,” he said.
Earlier this month, Netanyahu warned that Israeli fighter jets “can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran.”
Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for breaking “international maritime rules” came some two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian tanker at the mouth of the Mediterranean on allegations of breaching UN sanctions against Syria.