Palestinians in the pressure cooker

Middle East summits come and go with one repeated mantra: bring an end to the violence. That plea is always interpreted as a demand for both sides to stop shooting at each other and settle down long enough for their leaders to hammer out an agreement that will end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It won’t happen, of course. Not in Bill Clinton’s final weeks in office, and not for some time to come.

Yasir Arafat’s fragile hold on power is dependent on Israel, the United States and the careful organizing eye of the CIA. With that backing and little else he will try to control his people by sheer brute force. He is not likely to succeed. As Ron Ben-Yishai, writing from a strongly pro-Israel perspective, says, Arafat is “not in complete control of Fatah’s field activists, the Tanzim, and the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists . . .”


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