AL JAZEERA TV has been closed down in the West Bank by the Palestine Authority (PA).
The action took place after PLO leader Farouk Kaddoumi made allegations, that were reported on Al Jazeera, linking the current acting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas with the assassination of Yasser Arafat, one of the four founders of the Fatah movement to liberate Palestine.
Farouk Kaddoumi charged Mahmud Abbas and his former adviser Mohammed Dahlan of conniving with Israel to kill the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, based on secret minutes of a meeting Kaddoumi claimed to have received from Yasser Arafat documenting discussions on how to liquidate the first president of Palestine.
At a meeting with reporters in Amman, Kaddoumi read passages from what he claimed were the minutes of a secret meeting, which he received from the Palestinian president himself, of Ariel Sharon, Mahmud Abbas, and Mohammed Dahlan, in addition to US intelligence officers, in which a plan was drawn up for the assassination of Arafat and a number of military and political leaders of the Palestinian resistance.
Al Jazeera reported that according to the minutes, ‘Sharon told Abbas and Dahlan that all the political and military leaders of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which belong to the Fatah Movement, should be assassinated.’
According to the minutes, Sharon adds: ‘The first step must be to poison Arafat, because I do not agree to his deportation unless the host country ensures that he would be placed under house arrest.’
The report stated: ‘The copy of the minutes cites Abbas as replying to Sharon: If Arafat dies before we are able to control the land and all the Palestinian institutions, the Fatah Movement, and the Al-Aqsa Brigades, we will face great difficulties.’
According to this document, Abbas allegedly proposes implementing the Israeli plan through Arafat himself by forcing him to agree to the liquidation of the Palestinian resistance leaderships and to bear the consequences of this liquidation.
The report says: ‘In a response to Kaddoumi’s revelations, the Fatah Central Committee issued a statement accusing its secretary Farouk Kaddoumi, who resides abroad, of trying to divide the Palestinian ranks and issue inciting material to foil the Movement’s 6th General Congress by accusing Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas of involvement in a plot to assassinate the late Palestinian president by poisoning.
‘In a statement in Ramallah on 13 July, the Fatah Central Committee denounced what Abu-al-Lutf (Kaddoumi did and said that the document was not correct, saying that it is fabricated and is filled with contradictions and lies. It also creates sedition among the Palestinians and leads to internecine fighting.’
In conclusion, the report said that during the news conference Kaddoumi distributed a statement accusing the Palestinian president of being ‘an autocratic despot’ and that he wanted to ‘steal Arafat’s titles, saying that Abbas asked to be named a commander in chief of the revolution and then head of the State of Palestine in exile,’ and that ‘he is fond of glittering titles and names’ which he tries to win by ‘appeasing the members of the Fatah Central Committee and the Fatah Revolutionary Council.’
Kaddoumi told the Amman press conference that he had been working for the unification of the Fatah Movement and that was why he did not reveal this document earlier, in the hope that through Fatah’s Unity and the Congress, a new leadership would be elected, which would be free of those who plotted to assassinate Yasser Arafat.
At the press conference Kaddoumi said that this document was sent to him, by president Arafat, who also sent him a letter of resignation of Mahmud Abbas from the membership of the Fatah Movement.
He said that the man who conveyed this letter of resignation to Kaddoumi in Tunisia was Abbas Zaki, member of the Fatah Central Committee.
When asked why he remained silent all this time, he replied that there were many reasons.
The first reason is that the circumstances of Arafat’s death did not permit a division within the Fatah Movement’s ranks and leaders.
The second reason is that he wanted to be certain of the authenticity of what was written in this document.
He said that when he became certain he thought of announcing its contents.
He began to inform members of the Fatah Central Committee and members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council of this document and he handed them copies.
They also remained silent, and therefore he was not the only one who remained silent.
The Al Jazeera report continued that the Palestinian leadership had ‘concealed’ a historical development that needed ‘investigation and discussion; namely, who killed Yasser Arafat?’
Many had demanded an autopsy on Arafat’s body and many wanted an official investigation into his illness, his transfer, and his death, and wanted the summoning of those concerned and those close to him ‘to either give evidence or face charges.’
What Kaddoumi has said is being taken as a historical reminder that the Palestinian leadership did not do its job of investigating the martyrdom of President Arafat.
Many Palestinians are convinced that there was an intentional assassination operation against Arafat and that perhaps internal hands participated in this.
The call has now been made for re-forming the investigation commission stressing the need for ‘presenting the issue of the martyrdom of the president as one of the basic issues to be discussed at the Fatah Congress.’
The report concluded with the observation that ‘Normally, revolutions use armed struggle to expel the occupiers and attain power, and they are proud of this. However what is happening in Ramallah now is that the Palestinian leadership – the Palestinian National Authority – is working on striking at the armed struggle against the occupation in order to reach a political settlement with it.
‘This means that according to official statements by the Palestinian National Authority, the fedayeen actions now – the armed struggle – is a criminal action against the law.’
It was noted that the Fayyad government is expelling ‘all Palestinian cadres and replacing them with cadres that did not live through the years of the revolution, in order to produce a new generation that would work with the occupation and reach understanding and cooperate with the occupation. This qualitative change will not be effected easily.’