FROM GENEVA, ARAFAT CALLS ON ISRAELIS TO JOIN IN TALKS – 15/12/1988

[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 166

DECEMBER 15 1988

“Finally, Mr. Arafat can help by sharing with us his information on terrorist groups supported by other Mideastern states.  In this, we have a virtual community of interest.  While these groups, such as Syria’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command or the Libyan-hosted Fatah Revolutionary Council, are happy to murder Americans in the service of their hosts, they are no less interested in getting rid of Mr. Arafat.”

Noel Koch, Head of the Pentagon Counter-terrorism Program [1]

Ahmed Jibril

Ahmed Jibril

Yesterday, Dec. 14 1988, in a historical speech delivered at the UN in Geneva, Arafat announced that the PLO was renouncing terrorism and recognizes the right of Israel to exist.

Arafat proposed a three phases settlement that would be based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

However, Arafat insists on the Palestinian demand for return of refugees to the state of Israel.

“I said that I was calling upon you to stand by the struggle of our People to exercise its right to self-determination and to enable our people to return from the exile into which it was driven at gunpoint.”

UN Resolution 194 provides for the right of the Palestinians to return to the homes and properties from which they were evicted.

Secret US-PLO talks

On Dec. 6, a delegation of five American Jews met in Stockholm a delegation led by Arafat. [2]

Prior to yesterday meeting, National Security Advisor Colin Powell had secretly provided one of the American Jew a document to be forwarded to Arafat. The secret document is a presidential pledge to start a dialogue with the PLO if Arafat meets certain conditions.

In order to appease Israelis, the Reagan administration officially stated that Arafat had not met the conditions requested for direct talks. But in truth, the US administration had indeed decided to recognize the PLO and to side with Arafat. On Dec. 12, Robert Pelletereau, the US embassador in Tunisia, had initiated direct talks with PLO members Hakam Balawi and Yaser Abed Rabo.

Damascus and Tehran not amused

If Arafat and some leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization now hold that the best they can hope for is a Palestinian mini-state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, many other groups still disagree.

Syria and the Palestinian factions based in Damascus, such the PFLP-GC of Ahmed Jibril, hold that the balance of power is overwhelmingly in favor of Israel. They argue that talks should not begin until the Arab camp improves its strategic position.

A small minority of absolute rejectionists, led by Libya and the most radical Islamic fundamentalists and Palestinian factions, still hold out for ”total liberation of Palestine.”

Peace talks with Israel are denounced as treason by extremists like Abu Nidal.

“At the present, I am content to watch Arafat destroy himself with this so-called moderation and peace process,” Nidal told investigative reporter David Yallop later this month during an interview in Libya.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

It would appear that Arafat had wanted to make further concessions in his speech. But the PLO leader was held back by hard-line factions in the organization.

Although the Stockholm declaration was signed by four senior PLO officials, including Khalid Al Hassan, prominent figures such George Habash and Nayef Hawatimeh have recently issued a statement in Damascus saying that: “the P.L.O.’s Stockholm declaration accepting Israel’s existence went further than the Palestine National Council had agreed to in Algiers.”

US Sides with Arafat

“For the last eight years, the Reagan administration has debated, mostly with itself, how to address the Palestinian endless crisis. In a late attempt described by an expert as an 11th hour improvisation, Secretary of State Shultz has taken the very dangerous step of letting the genie out of the bottle,” wrote Noel Koch.

In exchange for renouncing to violence and for recognizing Israel right to exist, Arafat has been granted Statesman status by the US administration. Simply stated, the US has now chosen a side in the conflict. And this could mean trouble, both for the US and Arafat.

“The Syrian based PFLP-GC of Jibril and the Libyan hosted ANO do not limit themselves to targeting US assets and personnel according to the desiderata of their sponsors. They also seek the elimination of Arafat,” Koch argues.

One can safely expect that these groups will commit an act of terror against a US asset intended, at least partially, to ruin Arafat current efforts.

A Defense Intelligence Summary issued on November 8 1988 by the DIA Terrorism Intelligence Branch explicitly predicted that hard-line Palestinian groups would soon set up major terror attacks to discredit Arafat.

Back to the Present

“In case we haven’t noticed, we have now aligned ourselves with Mr. Arafat,” wrote Koch in the aftermath of the Lockerbie bombing.

“The last time we chose sides between warring factions in the Middle East, it cost us 241 American Marines.  This time, I believe, it cost us 259 on a U.S. airliner and 11 Scots.  For the Marines, we got nothing.  If 270 souls are the price of our latest peace-making effort, we should require something back in the way of progress.”

Twenty years later, as relatives commemorate the anniversary of the Lockerbie tragedy, we still have not got anything back.

“Lockerbie: was it Iran? Syria? All I know is, it wasn’t the man in prison. A lot of powerful people would be embarrassed if the truth, whatever it is, came out,” writes Hugh Miles in today’s edition of The Independent on Sunday. [3]

Come to think of it, one of the relatives did receive something, namely a fresh insult from the former Lord Advocate Peter Fraser.

Lord Peter Fraser suggests that Dr Swire is suffering from ‘Stockholm syndrome’, a condition where surviving victims of terrorist outrages take up the cause of those who have attacked them.

“I would have preferred that such matters were not raised on the back of an anniversary where relatives need to remember with gladness the lives of those they lost. But I am determined that my daughter’s horrible death shall not be associated with anything other than truth and justice,” Dr Swire wrote to the editors of the newspapers who published Fraser interview.

“It is Lord Fraser who judged this to be a favourable time for such comments, that is a shame, and not in line with his normal caring and sympathetic ways,” Dr Swire says.

Lord Fraser was the Lord Advocate (1989-92) who initiated the case against Megrahi. I have noticed that Fraser tends to act strangely on the eve of the anniversary of the tragedy.

On Dec. 20 2006, Lord Fraser was detained by police after they were called to Dundee Airport following reports of a disturbance on board an aircraft. Lord Fraser was charged with disorderly conduct. [NB. I understand that he was drunk and got himself into a brawl.]

Could it be that the former Lord Advocate has some difficulties forgetting that it was his duty to verify that the indictment against the Libyans was based on reliable witnesses?  By not doing the job for which he had been appointed, Fraser has irreversibly associated himself with the worse miscarriage of justice of the last hundred years. Instead of insulting witness Tony Gauci, Fraser should reflect on the role he played in the tragedy.

 NOTES AND REFERENCES

(1) PLAY THE US HAND WITH ARAFAT — WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/13/1989

(2) Ahmed Jibril: The Operation Is Back on Track

(3) Lockerbie: was it Iran? Syria? All I know is, it wasn’t the man in prison

ARAFAT, IN GENEVA, CALLS ON ISRAELIS TO JOIN IN TALKS – December 14, 1988

Text of Arafat – December 13, 1988

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