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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

King Abdullah suggests Arafat step down

"The Palestinians need to help themselves first before others can help them"
Maariv: King Abdullah II of Jordan said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat should consider yielding power if it would be beneficial to the Palestinian people, in a “New York Times” interview published Tuesday.

“I think Arafat needs to have a long look in the mirror to be able to see whether his position is helping the Palestinian cause or not”, King Abdullah II said.

The King went on to say that Arafat stepping aside could be what the Palestinian people need to make progress towards statehood. "If this allows the Palestinians to get beyond the obstacle that they are facing now with the United States and Israel, then that's something the Palestinians need to sort out and sort out quickly," he said.

The King told reporters at a regional economic conference in Jordan Monday that he believes “The Palestinians need to help themselves first before others can help them “.
UPDATE: This is the second Arab call for Arafat's resignation in as many days. See JPost coverage of a prominent Arab columnist and longtime friend of Arafat, Jihad al-Khazen, publishing an open letter to Arafat in Al-Hayat:
"You have done your best. It is time to give the wheel to younger hands. The American administration wants you to leave the scene, and Ariel Sharon wants to kill you. The reasons of both are known. They took a stance from you based on enmity. I came to this conclusion out of love. I am worried about you. . . .

You are not in the best of health. Your cause is weaker than you are. It needs a brilliant mind and hands that do not shake. I ask you to resign because I am your friend. I wish you well and I want your cause to live."

Also of interest might be this story in the Gulf News (Dubai), by a Jerusalem-based Palestinian journalist:
Last week, Arafat chaired a meeting with his top aides, including the National Security Council. During that meeting, Abu Alaa and Dr. Saeb Erekat, the minister in charge of negotiations with Israel, urged Arafat to introduce reforms and to furnish Abu Alaa with the authority he needs.

Brigadier General Jibril Rajoub, who was commander of the preventive security in the West Bank and is currently Arafat's advisor on security, asked the president to consolidate all the security forces under one person, as proposed by the roadmap. Arafat was furious.

He screamed at Rajoub and ordered him out of the room. Rajoub left the building through a side door avoiding the press. He refused to comment on what happened. A day later, shots were fired at his office. Some argued that those bullets could be the signal from Arafat's supporters to remind Rajoub who is the boss.