A President Arafat without executive powers would be acceptable to the USA as an emaciated ceremonial figure, with a Prime Minister running the Palestine Authority under him.
Such was made clear by US Secretary of State Colin Powell at his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, UNO Secretary-General Kofi Annan and EU Foreign Policy chief, Javier Solana.
“It is a formula I would be more than willing to consider,” he told ABC news programme “Nightline” on Tuesday, while at the same time admitting that “It is up to the Palestinian people to ultimately decide what role Chairman Arafat should play, if any”.
The use of the expression “if any” is interesting, since it alludes to president Bush’s latest Middle East speech, in which he made it clear that Arafat should play no further part in Palestine Authority politics and that the people should elect a new and different administration.
However, the notion that Arafat may after all be accepted is an indication either of a rift between the White House and the State Department or that the speech delivered by president Bush was one of the most insubstantial, irrelevant and irresponsible one that George W. Bush has made to date.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru