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An impending Palestinian Civil War - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In a recent meeting with the son of Moussa Arafat, after his kidnapping ordeal and the death of his father, Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, had every reason to be gloomy and worried, as he had been shown unable to control his own people, despite the Israeli military leaving the Gaza Strip.

Once again, everyone anxiously awaits an end to the power struggle and jostling for positions within the Palestinian leadership, which can only lead to a full-blown civil war.

Murdering Moussa Arafat in full of view of everyone was indeed shocking, as were the kidnapping of his son and the ensuing negotiations to release him, involving men whose names and identities are well known.

Thos who planned and carried out the attack succeeded in creating controversy and proving Israeli allegations, after it re-occupied Palestinian territory and reneged on the Oslo Accords that the Authority was unfit for government and as such, agreements between the two sides were invalid. The defiance of some Palestinian groups caused significant losses of life, territory, and everything the Authority had established so far to serve its citizens, the airport was shut down, construction of the port was halted, Israeli checkpoints and tanks reappeared, and Palestinians were faced with task of regaining their land once more.

Israel was able to demonstrate the weakness and ineffectiveness of the Palestinian Authority before its troops had even left Gaza; it proved it couldn’t even ensure the security of its own officials. No matter what was said on Moussa Arafat in an attempt to justify the silence following hi murder, the message Palestinian groups wanted to send was abundantly clear, namely that the Authority had no real backing amongst ordinary Palestinians, despite conducting negotiations, welcoming dignitaries and holding rallies.

The Palestinian Authority faces a one of the sternest test in its history, with the failure of Oslo still fresh in everyone’s mind. Continuing infighting threatens everything achieved so far and what might be attained in the West Bank at a later stage.

Abu Mazen needs to settle the arguments once and for all or risk a civil war.

Most of the weapons depots are beyond the Authority’s control. Competition for political clout and popularity will not end in itself. Instead, a continuation of the existing rivalry will create havoc and destruction; the opposition has shown it has the necessary ammunition to fight and the unwillingness to support a unified Palestinian leadership it is not party to.

Once an for all, the Authority needs to decide to whether to include other Palestinian groups in government or to confront them, disarm them, and break them up. Moussa Arafat was murder under the pretence he was corrupt; tomorrow another leader will be killed, and a thousand justifications will be given!

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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