Arafat Calls For Backup At Camp David
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - As PA Chairman Yasser Arafat urges various Palestinian factions to support any agreement that might emerge from the Mideast summit, his Fatah movement in Gaza is preparing for confrontation.
Arafat's proposal to convene a meeting of Palestinian groups, some of which are not currently at Camp David, reportedly angered the U.S., which has rejected the idea. Some of the groups Arafat wants to assemble reject talks with Israel and support terrorist groups such as Hamas.
"We agreed in advance on the size of the parties and those people are at Camp David now and I expect those people to stay there through the talks," White House spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters.
"Anyone who would want to come and join the talks would have to get on the list of people coming and going through the security," Lockhart said, adding that as far as he knew there had been no requests to add to the teams.
Suleiman An-Najab from the People's Party (communist party) and Samir Ghosheh, a former PA minister from the Palestinian Struggle Front, as well as Taysir Khalid of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine - who formerly opposed talks with Israel but accepted Arafat's invitation - are staying outside of Camp David, hoping to be allowed in as Arafat's advisors.
Meanwhile U.S. officials intervened to stop a PA minister, one of 20 advisors to Arafat, from briefing the media. A strict media blackout has been imposed on the summit, which is being held at the presidential retreat in order to keep the leaders secluded from political and media pressures.
Back in Gaza, sources say that Arafat's Fatah movement is preparing for a confrontation scenario in the event that the summit collapses.
One PA source said that there was no "state of emergency" in Gaza and that everyone was "just watching" to see what would happen.
However, within the organization, a Fatah leader did confirm that a "state of emergency" had been declared, but declined to give further details.
A spokesman for the mainstream movement, was quoted as saying that "a state of general emergency and heightened alert" had been declared in order "to deal with any emerging situation."
"We are not seeking a confrontation, God Forbid," Diab Louh, was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying. "But if it was imposed on us by the Israeli occupation then we would have no choice."
According to a Fatah statement, 1000 boys and girls attended the first in a series of military courses. Many Fatah activists are armed with automatic weapons, which they used recently against Israeli security forces in clashes in May when they marked what they call the al-Nakba - the catastrophe of the founding of the State of Israel.
Last summer, the PA sponsored camps in which children of all ages were trained in military style exercises and taught songs and chants about becoming martyrs. The camps were televised on PA television.
An Israeli army Intelligence officer said earlier this week that it is unlikely that Arafat will sign an agreement, which would bring about an end to the conflict.
Intelligence officer Maj.-Gen. Amos Malka said that Arafat has put his "violence card" on the table, but he is not likely to use it as a first choice. If Arafat turns to violence, Malka warned, its possible the Palestinian civilians will be used to attack Jewish settlements.
Arafat has been cloistered at Camp David with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak since Tuesday, where the leaders are aiming to reach an agreement on the issues that have caused conflict between Jews and Arabs for generations: Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, final borders and Jewish settlements.
Clinton, who refereed the first two days of the summit, was due to leave Camp David for other engagements in Washington on Thursday morning, leaving Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in charge. It was not clear when Clinton would return but time is running out.
Israeli negotiators will not likely work officially on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath and the summit is expected to finish by next Wednesday, when Clinton has to leave for a summit in Japan.