Arafat Slammed by Former Cabinet Minister for 'Chaos' in PA

Former Palestinian minister Nabil Amer has sharply criticized Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat for failing to set up orderly institutions in the PA.

In an article this week in the international Arab daily Al Hayat, Amer blasted the Palestinians for rejecting former U.S. president Bill Clinton's proposals, saying the Palestinians had lost everything they had achieved in the political process.

Entitled "An open letter to President Yasser Arafat," Amer accused Arafat of turning his back on both the government and partisan institutions and organizations such as Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Amer complained that in the last two years, the Palestinians had turned from a people with institutions and frameworks to "warrior groups in forests and climbing mountains."

It is time for the Palestinians to take stock, he said. "Since the beginning of the internal conflict and as part of the struggle with the Israelis in negotiations, we have given up one of our most important weapons: Building institutions, with the world's support, which can win the Palestinians' confidence and do away with Israel's excuses," wrote Amer.

He added the Palestinians "will remain in a state of ongoing regression as long as we retain the extraordinary ability to see everything that happens to us, whether it is bleeding, destruction or regression, as an accomplishment of a leadership which has nothing to be proud of."

Amer said that two years after the outbreak of the intifada, "we are demanding what we have already rejected."

Amer described Palestinian bureaucracy as being in a state of "chaos" adding, "There is an army of officials - more than 130,000 - three-quarters of whom don't know what they're doing."

MK Azmi Bishara (Balad) also slammed the PA and Palestinian organizations Tuesday for failing to develop a strategy of resistance to Israeli occupation. On a visit to Ramallah, he came out against harming Israeli citizens, both for moral and practical reasons.

Bishara spoke at a debate organized by Palestinian Research Institute Al Muwattan, which the Israeli MK helped found. Attendants consisted mainly of academics, political activists of PLO organizations and senior PA officials. The Palestinian educational television channel Al Quds intends to broadcast the entire debate.

Bishara said harming citizens in general and suicide attacks in particular, "which two or three youngsters can decide on," are no strategy, and in fact derive from lack of strategy and weakness.

In his opening address, Bishara called on the Palestinian organizations to develop a strategy of resistance based on a popular movement against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Every resistance strategy must ask whether Palestinian society can bear the dire prolonged consequences of the struggle on the one hand, and its ability to make the occupying society pay a political and moral price for its government's policy, on the other, he said.

Bishara said Israeli society is already paying a high economic and security price, but this has not been reflected politically. He said terrorist attacks led to the unification of Israeli society behind its government's military policy. The Palestinians failed by not making it clear to the Israelis what their political objectives were, said Bishara.