- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2002


JERUSALEM The Palestinian security chief in the West Bank pledged his loyalty to Yasser Arafat yesterday, two days after witnesses said the Palestinian leader threatened him with a gun during a heated argument.

Mr. Arafat’s aides at the time tried to wrest the gun from his hand, and it fell to the ground, said two Palestinian officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Mr. Arafat’s aides declined comment.

The rift between Mr. Arafat and Jibril Rajoub, head of the Preventive Security Service in the West Bank, came at a time of growing disagreements in the Palestinian Authority over the scope of the crackdown Mr. Arafat has repeatedly promised against suspected Palestinian militants.

Mr. Arafat is under intense pressure from the United States and Israel to dismantle militias, including the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade linked to his own Fatah movement, and to arrest suspected militants. But many Palestinians oppose such moves without concrete gains to show for more than a year of fighting.

Israel has said it will not permit Mr. Arafat to leave the West Bank town of Ramallah until he takes decisive action.

Mr. Arafat’s Israel-imposed isolation coincides with some say is the cause of growing lawlessness in the Palestinian areas, with militiamen increasingly defying orders by the Palestinian leader.

On Sunday, Mr. Arafat and members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council decided to dismantle the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

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