'Arafat May Now Want to Calm the Situation'

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What do you make of reports that Yasser Arafat has told Fatah activists to stop shooting at the Israelis?

"Officially they deny there was an order to stop shooting because they say there was no order to start shooting. And if it was true, it hasn't had an effect. Right now, the West Bank and Gaza are a theater of shooting in every single direction. From my house, I can hear Palestinians shooting at Gilo and the Israelis responding by shelling Beit Jalla. Six Palestinians were shot dead today in the West Bank and Gaza. Most were killed during exchanges of fire. So once again, the question is whether any cease-fire effort on Arafat's part would be observed."

So what is Arafat's strategy right now?

"Arafat's strategy will be to cool the situation down. He got what he wants — Arab and Islamic solidarity and support, and international attention. So he may want to now go back to the negotiations in a stronger position. But the question is whether Israel is going to trust him and respond positively. I don't think so, because on the Palestinian side there are the hotheads who don't agree with Arafat's new strategy of cooling down the situation, and on the Israeli side, there are the hotheads in the army who say they will no longer accept the Palestinians 'humiliating' them. So there are a lot more than two sides involved in this battle right now."