'Arafat Will Pretend He Made No Deal'

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Tuesday, 10:30 a.m., EST

"The final statement at Sharm el-Sheik was a face-saving formula, which every side will interpret according to his own dictionary. I don't think it's going to withstand the public pressure on the Palestinian street — the clashes are going to continue.

"Arafat wants Palestinians to think that when he gets back from Sharm el-Sheik, the Gaza airport will be opened, the Israeli army will redeployed and the closure of Palestinian territories will be lifted. I think this is a short-sighted reading. The Israelis also have their own calculations — they're not going to ease off until they can prove to the Israeli people that the Palestinians have stopped shooting. An hour ago I saw a shootout at the Israeli settlement of Gilo, on the outskirts of Bethlehem, and one Israeli was seriously wounded. This will put a lot of pressure on Barak, because Israelis will ask how he can withdraw his troops when such things are happening.

"On the Palestinian side, the situation is so fluid at this point that currently we cannot say that Arafat is in charge when it comes to demonstrations and clashes. Fatah activists are making decisions on the spot. I don't think Arafat gave the order to shoot at Gilo. Everyone is taking law and order in their own hands.

"Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti reacted to Clinton's statement at Sharm el-Sheik by saying, 'We didn't start the intifada to move an Israeli tank back one kilometer or to reopen the Gaza airport. We started the intifada to end the Israeli occupation, and we're going to continue it until we have independence.' That would mean, in light of the agreement, that he's splitting from Arafat. But the real question is, can Arafat afford to split from Marwan Barghouti? This is his problem, he can't afford to lose his own base.

"The Palestinians are angry at the loss of life they've suffered, and Arafat wasn't given anything to bring them back from Sharm el-Sheik. So he's going to pretend that he didn't make a deal. Privately he'll ask his lieutenants to cool things down.

"The fact that Arafat and his men have refused to face throughout the peace process is that the Israeli occupation never ended, and that Palestinians realize through their daily life experience that they are still subject to Israeli regulations and measures. And that will make it very hard for him to calm down Palestinian rage."