Arafat held secret meeting with CIA Director

  • From: "Muslim-News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 9 Apr 2002 14:36:39 +0100

Al-Watan has learned from reliable sources in Washington that George
Tenet, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency CIA arrived
secretly in Israel last Sunday 31 March , accompanied by several CIA
officers, at the request of US President George Bush. The sources said
that Tenet, accompanied by US special envoy Anthony Zinni, probably met
with Palestinian President Yasir Arafat in his besieged office in
Ramallah Sunday night. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had ordered
his forces in Ramallah to prevent journalists from entering the besieged
city on Sunday to ensure the secrecy of Tenet's visit and to prevent
news about Israeli crimes in the city from being leaked to the outside
world. The sources did not offer an explanation for Tenet's visit.
However, they said that PNA Palestinian National Authority officials had
informed Arafat that they received a request from Zinni to meet them.
The Palestinian president ordered these officials to reject such a
meeting, saying "any American official who wants to negotiate with the
Palestinian side must come to my office here in Ramallah". 
The relations between Arafat and Zinni became tense before the recent
Israeli incursion into the Palestinian areas. It was reported in
Washington that the Palestinian president had expressed reservations
about dealing with the US special envoy, prompting the administration of
President Bush to consider sending US Secretary of State Colin Powell to
the region. The idea of sending Powell was proposed following increased
criticism in the United States of the administration's negative handling
of the crisis. However, this idea was scrapped during a meeting of the
National Security Council under President Bush. US Vice-President Dick
Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser
Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell attended the

It is believed that the Tenet and Zinni's visit took place to achieve
several goals: to enable the US mediator to continue his mission and to
ensure the cooperation of the Palestinian side with him. According to
some reports, Tenet's visit to the region took place following a
decision to raise the level of the CIA presence in the crisis region.
The decision was made after several Arab leaders held intensive contacts
with Washington. They had warned of the possibility that Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon would "develop" his operations to achieve
strategic goals, which could include the deportation of thousands of
Palestinians to the east bank of the Jordan River. 

According to Washington sources, the Israeli government informed
Washington that it had no such intentions and that it was committed to
the framework it conveyed to Gen Zinni before the start of the recent

The sources believe that President Bush will honour his pledge to give
Sharon sufficient time to accomplish the task of "destroying the
infrastructure of terrorism", as the Israeli prime minister put it, in
return for Sharon's fulfilment of his promise to agree to implement the
Tenet document for a cease-fire and the Mitchell recommendations. The
military operations will strengthen Sharon's position among the Israeli
rightists and enable him to make "concessions" by accepting the Mitchell
recommendations, including ending settlement activity. This will make it
possible for the current Israeli government to remain in power. The
limited "tactical" framework Sharon has established for the current
operations had calmed the fears of his opponent Shimon Peres and the
Labour Party ministers about these operations. 

The Washington sources told Al-Watan that the Israeli operations, which
could last for another three weeks, will be followed immediately by a
return to the cease-fire negotiations, the deployment of several CIA
officers along the Palestinian-Israeli contact lines, and the
implementation of the Mitchell recommendations in May. 

Source: Al-Watan web site, Abha, in Arabic 3 Apr 02 

Source:  BBC Monitoring

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