It is true that Mahmoud AbbasÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s call for a meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council comes on the 100th day of him being Prime Minister. It is also true that the upcoming meeting is an attempt to recruit as many PLC members to support him in his power dispute with President Arafat.
Head of the PLC Ahmad QureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s phone was ringing incessantly last night as several Palestinian ministers were mediating, calling Qure in an attempt to delay what they saw as a potentially disastrous meeting slated for Monday.
Azzam Al-Ahmad, Minister of Communication and Technology said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“This call for a PLC meeting comes in a crisis situation because of the tension in the Palestinian areas and the decision made by the Fatah Central Committee to appoint Nasser Yousif the Minister of Interior. Add to that the calls by the American Administration to merge all the security devices and rearrange the Palestinian AuthorityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s establishments.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Al-Ahmad said a lot of thought needs to be given to ending the conflict in the Palestinian government without allowing Sharon to manipulate the internal resolution process.
A number of PLC members think that the meeting can be standard, despite new power disputes. On the other hand, Azmi ShuÃ¢â‚¬â„¢aibi, chair of the economic committee of the council, said Abu Mazen attended a meeting for the political committee of the council while Dahlan, Minister of Internal Security Affairs, was questioned by the Security and the Interior committees of the council, to which he reported about the security meetings with Israel. The two above mentioned committees did not submit a report about these meetings to the council, meaning the council will have to convene on the 100th day of the new government to evaluate its achievements.
Some PLC members want this meeting to happen in spite of the fact that there may be a hidden agendaÃ¢â‚¬â€to regain face for the establishment that was lost a long time ago.
Among all of this, President Arafat is holding together the threads of a frayed government in his damaged headquarters in Ramallah. He has spent the past few days in meetings with the Palestinian Leadership, joined by different Palestinian political factions, to evaluate the dilemma. He listened to speeches and suggestions, and objections from some who disagreed with going into an internal conflict while apaches are chasing activists and tanks are invading cities and villages. Many objected to dealing with opening internal conflict while, they say, the people are getting ready for an open war that Sharon might announce soon, which will affect leaders across the entire Palestinian political spectrum. Some others say that Palestinians should stick to the Leadership Hierarchy and its authority and responsibilities.
President Arafat was dragged into power conflict while trying to defend his legitimacy as an elected leader of the Palestinian people and the Fatah Executive Committee. President Arafat stressed that no one can take control of the security devices, reasoning that the elected president is the head of the Supreme Council of National Security.
Arafat rebelled, and observers of the rebellion have called it Ã¢â‚¬Å“justified.Ã¢â‚¬Â First, massive pressure has accumulated on Arafat. Financial pressure, the lack of mobility, and the fact that none of the Arab leaders are helping him get out of what amounts to the Al-Mukata prison are all contributing factors to his rebellion. Beyond that, the increasing calls for his isolation and the drop in the number of visiting delegations to his Ramallah compound have compacted the pressure. Finally, the call to hand over control of national security and intelligence was the straw that broke the camels back.
On the other hand, Abu Mazen, who was very clear in his vision and his aims since day one, has climbed a very high and rough mountain in the past 100 days. The internal pressure continues. The Palestinian street wants him to wave a magic wand to stop Israeli aggression and its destructive effects, the Central Committee is watching every single word he say to the press and every official statement to Sharon.
Abbas is fed up with all of this and, it seems, refuses to deal with it anymore. He resigned from the Central Committee of Fatah as a symbol of his protest. The problem with this tactic, though, is that his crisis was not in the Central Committee, but lies instead in SharonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s policy and tactics to drag Abu Mazen to a civil war in Palestine by thwarting the truce that was AbbasÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s major achievement.
In the aftermath of the latest attack in Jerusalem in which 20 Israeli were killed, and under obvious American pressure, Abu Mazen wanted to make things clear regarding the security mandate he has. In fact, he demanded to have the security affairs under his direct supervision, with support from Dahlan, the Minister of Security Affairs.
Abu MazenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s demand was paralleled by American insistence from U.S. Secretary of State, Collin Powell. This demand was unexpectedly rejected by Arafat.
A new authority battle started. This time, the title is, Appointing a Minister of Interior. The battle was launched by the Central Committee against Abu Mazen who wanted to end the fight by resorting to the Legislative Council.
This was confirmed by Azmi ShueibiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s comment (mentioned above) that Abu Mazen is attempting to recruit support among the PLC members for his power struggle against both the President and the Fatah Central Committee.
The question here is whether the PLC will be a unified homogenous body in dealing with this case. It is apparent that the council is fragmented. Even FatahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bloc in the council is fragmented. However, many members of the Central Committee are members of the PLC and pull a lot of weight there.
This fragmentation in the council gives the head of the council, Ahmad QureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, one of three central figures (Arafat and Abu Mazen) a key role at this stage to affect the direction the council will take.
QureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is still silent regarding what is happening. Like Arafat and Abu Mazen, he realizes that the regional and the international formula will not allow them to go far in the internal conflict. The power struggle will remain within the frame of enhancing the position of both Arafat and Abu Mazen.