Arafat's Mission Impossible

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Yasser Arafat is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't: The Palestinian leader arrived home in Gaza Wednesday, charged by last week's peace agreement with organizing a widespread security crackdown -- one that won't be popular among a people deeply skeptical of his peace deal. Arafat's administration is hardly a poster child for human rights, but the requirements of the Wye agreement have raised fears that worse is to come. "Nobody seriously expects Arafat to go about his war on terrorism with the kinds of legal niceties employed in the U.S.," says TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer. "The crackdown he's expected to undertake will inevitably involve mass, arbitrary arrests, torturing information out of suspects and a curtailing of freedom of speech, assembly and the press." And when Arafat does launch that crackdown, Hamas isn't likely to go quietly, either. Which is why the most contradictory element in the Wye agreement may be the requirement that the Palestinian Authority trim its security forces -- if Arafat goes to war with the radical suicide bombers, he's going to need all the police he can find.