- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2002

LONDON A leading contender to replace Yasser Arafat has launched a blistering attack on the leadership's record and has claimed that Mr. Arafat ignored written advice to end the Palestinian uprising immediately after the September 11 attacks.
Mohammed Dahlan, former head of a major Palestinian security organization in Gaza, reportedly revealed his recommendation at a meeting of the Businessmen Association in Gaza last Sunday and in a briefing to local journalists.
Detailed notes of the remarks were made available to the Damascus correspondent of the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat.
Although he resigned a week ago as Mr. Arafat's national security adviser to protest Mr. Arafat's failure to name a new, reform-minded Cabinet, Mr. Dahlan is seen as a potential successor to the Palestinian leader and has considerable backing within the U.S. administration and intelligence services.
Mr. Dahlan, according to the newspaper's detailed account, was explaining to his audience how extensively the Palestinian leadership had blundered or had deliberately misled its people.
The account said he had advised Mr. Arafat in a written report to end the armed uprising immediately after the September 11 terror attacks on the United States. The report had stated: "We [must] leave the Intifada behind us. The Intifada is the means, not the purpose. "
Mr. Dahlan was quoted as having told the businessmen: "We should have turned it into a popular intifada and stopped the armed activity, but we didn't, because we don't have the courage, as a leadership, to do so."
Several Palestinian academics and some midlevel political figures have in recent weeks called for an end to the uprising, which began in September 2000. They have argued, in newspaper advertisements and interviews, that the violence and the suicide bombings associated with it have only left the Palestinians in a weaker military and political position.
The intifada has led to more than 2,500 deaths, about three-quarters of them Palestinian.
Mr. Dahlan has denied the accuracy of the published report, but businessmen and journalists who attended the meeting confirmed that the remarks were made. Journalists at the meeting had been told not to take notes.
A suave man with a penchant for sharp suits, Mr. Dahlan reportedly criticized the Palestinian people as "a mob that opts for extremism and rejection," and urged the Palestinian leadership to enforce a cease-fire "even if it has to use a stick" to do so.
He said the leadership was entitled to prevent Hamas, the hard-line Islamic movement, from waging war on Israelis, on the grounds that such actions only ended with Israelis bulldozing and claiming Palestinian land.
The remarks are being interpreted by some Palestinian analysts as part of Mr. Dahlan's bid for power. He is distancing himself from the increasingly unpopular Palestinian leadership, while at the same time seeking to pressure Mr. Arafat into appointing a prime minister and accepting much reduced powers.
Mr. Dahlan recently visited Egypt along with the official No. 2 in the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, also a likely successor to Mr. Arafat. The two men reportedly urged President Hosni Mubarak to press Mr. Arafat into accepting a reduced role.
An even more fundamental error, according to the remarks attributed to Mr. Dahlan, was that Mr. Arafat failed to accept the peace deal offered at Camp David in 2000. He maintained that Mr. Arafat should have accepted the deal and then worked to improve it once he had obtained control of the territory on offer.
He noted the example of Israel's first premier, David Ben Gurion, who accepted a U.N. resolution to partition Palestine even though the Jews would not have had control of Jerusalem.
The Arabs rejected the resolution and, after armies from five Arab nations attacked Jewish positions, Israel ended up with more territory than the United Nations had allocated to it.

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