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Covert Pressure Forced Palestinian Hand

  • The fighting in Israel subsides as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat succumbs to CIA pressure and blackmail.
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By James Harrer

The current truce in the fierce fighting between the Palestinians and Israeli soldiers and settlers was not negotiated -- as claimed -- by President Bill Clinton or Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The deal for peace was brokered by the three top "spooks" on the scene: CIA Director George Tenet, Avi Dichter, the chief of Shin Beth, Israel's domestic intelligence service, and Jibril Rajoub, who heads the Palestine Authority's security and counterintelligence branch.

"Tenet, who has been shuttling be tween the two warring sides in Palestine in a convoy of armor-plated limousines and, occasionally, a helicopter gunship, has been the shadowy wirepuller behind this shaky calm," explained a foreign-service officer from a Gulf nation who specializes in Middle Eastern affairs at UN headquarters in New York City.

Where other go-betweens have failed, Tenet succeeded in persuading Palestine Authority President Yasser Arafat to curb the protest demonstrations of his followers for one simple reason. The CIA has compiled a vast "dirt dossier" on the misdeeds, self-dealing and corruption that has tainted key members of the Palestine leadership, and Tenet used it ruthlessly to pressure Arafat to call for a temporary cessation of hostilities.

Under such duress, Arafat reportedly also agreed to re-enter the so-called "peace process" promoted by the Clinton administration.

Palestinian negotiators are said to be preparing to resume talks with Israeli envoys in Washington next month about a "final status" accord between the two nations.

The new "peace plan" on the table is reportedly more unfavorable to Palestin ian interests than previous Israeli offers of a settlement.

"It is supposed to lock Palestinians into a 'state' that is made up of small, disconnected enclaves," said Judy Dempsey, who covers the Middle East for The Financial Times, the leading Anglo-American business daily.

Under the Israeli scheme, "movement among these 'native reservations' set aside for the Palestinian Arabs would be restricted and economic activity sharply curtailed," explained Dempsey.

In the consensus of regional experts, while Arafat may have momentarily consented to restrain the explosions of communal rage at the repression and discrimination Palestinians must endure under Israeli occupation, "the chances of such a 'peace plan' being implemented are slim to mostly none," one knowledgeable diplomat said.