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Understanding Arafat (and Abbas, too)

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Dan Perry has written a very interesting and entertaining featured post, “A surreal encounter with Yasser Arafat,” in which he relates what happened 20 years ago, when he interviewed the legendary Palestinian leader. There are lots of fascinating details, and I recommend it to all.

There is, however, one aspect of the post that is somewhat disappointing. Perry seems mystified as to why Arafat would reject the offer of Israel’s then-prime minister, Ehud Barak, which would have created “a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and more than 90 percent of the West Bank, with complex arrangements to share Jerusalem in ways that no one had ever considered sharing a city.” Perry asks: Why would Arafat turn down a Palestinian state?

Frankly, I think there is no mystery here at all. The answer to Perry’s rhetorical question is very obvious because, in mulling over the Israeli offer, two thoughts would immediately push themselves to the very center of Arafat’s attention.

Arafat would think first of all that, if he accepted, hard-line Palestinian extremists would likely try to assassinate him as a traitor. He would be a traitor because, for the extremists, true Palestinian nationalism demands a state in all of historic........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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