Photo by Majdi Fathi/TPS
By Baruch Yedid/TPS • 21 January 2021
“We also deserve a change of presidents like in the United States,” Suha Arafat, Yasser Arafat’s widow, told TPS in a phone conversation, and demanded that Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas leave after 15 years in power and four presidential terms in the US.
Her remarks were accompanied by an unprecedented attack and with very harsh criticism of the head of the Palestinian Authority.
“I am now watching the live broadcast of the change of government and the display of democracy in the White House,” Arafat said in the call, “and I decided it was time to publicly demand that Abu Mazen [Abbas] withdraw from Palestinian life and resign because he has already lost his legitimacy and moral right to rule the Palestinian people.”
In a scathing attack on Abbas, Arafat demands that he leave his post as Palestinian president “just as Trump was expelled from the White House,” adding that “just as the United States separates from Trump, probably for good, so we must part with Abu Mazen.”
“The Palestinians, like the Americans, deserve better leadership and now, as President Biden infuses new blood into the corridors of the White House, we too deserve different leadership and new blood in the Muqata’s building in Ramallah,” she said.
“We deserve new and young leadership in place of Abu Mazen’s dictatorship, which is no different from the dictatorships of Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad,” she added.
According to her, only an elected leadership that is not based on the “Abbas dictatorship” will be able to take advantage of the positive momentum in the White House and harness it in favor of the Palestinians, and therefore Abu Mazen must make room for others.
Arafat says that her husband, whom she calls “the eternal leader Abu Amar,” used to emphasize and say many times that “the Palestinian people are better and more important than their leaders and deserve better leaders.”
She now demands that Abu Mazen respect her husband’s legacy and cease his reign of fear.
"Like Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad, Abu Mazen also uses his presidency and control of the Palestinian people’s money to starve his people, and like those tyrannical leaders, when he has a problem with one of the family members he does not hesitate to harm the entire family,” she said.
In recent weeks, Arafat has often criticized Abu Mazen’s leadership, but in a conversation with TPS, she “shifted up the gear,” apparently against the background of the upcoming Palestinian Authority elections, and said serious and unprecedented remarks condemning the PA chairman.
“He uses propaganda methods that are reminiscent of [Nazi propagandist] Joseph Goebbels’ methods,” said Suha Arafat.
Referring to the upcoming elections, Yasser Arafat’s widow demands that Abu Mazen leave his post and added, “I hope he does not take advantage of the next election to return to the Palestinian presidency by oppressing the younger generation.”
During the conversation, Suha Arafat said that she appreciated and hoped that Marwan Barghouti, a senior Fatah official imprisoned in Israel for five life sentences, would run for the Palestinian presidency and oust Abu Mazen.
In recent days, Fatah sources have said that Abu Mazen, the movement’s presidential candidate, is working to prevent Barghouti from running against him. Against this background, Suha says, “I hope Marwan will not succumb to the pressures exerted on him and face Abu Mazen. Marwan understands that if he does not run now, the PA will work under Abu Mazen and Majed Faraj, the head of Palestinian intelligence, to keep him in prison for decades to come.”
Asked about the identity of the “young leadership,” Arafat said: “Abu Mazen should allow the younger generation to run for leadership. Do you know everyone who came from Tunis to the PA alongside Arafat? Do you know Palestinian businessmen or academics? I am sure Israel does not know many who are worthy of replacing Abu Mazen, but there is a reason for this and that is that Abu Mazen and his ilk in the Palestinian leadership are suppressing any other leadership.”
“It is not possible the young Palestinians succeed abroad and achieve in the fields of economics and science and academia, and only in the territories of the PA are they failing and oppressed. We must nurture the students and entrepreneurs and academics and replace Abu Mazen’s rule of fear and corruption, “she told TPS.
Suha Arafat does not distinguish between PA rule and Hamas in the Gaza Strip: “Abu Mazen’s rule is no different from Hamas’ rule in the Gaza Strip and in PA territories, the Palestinians have become hostages under a rule of fear that Abu Mazen leads through his security forces and Fatah members.”
In her remarks, she stressed that she meant the Fatah factions loyal to Abu Mazen and not those loyal to Marwan Barghouti or Muhammad Dahlan.
Referring to the recent criticism she passed over Abu Mazen, Suha Arafat said that she was “sure that Abu Mazen will now act to discredit me in a series of comments and claim against me that I close personal accounts, especially with the head of his bureau, but he must understand that in politics everything is personal and I admit that he and his secretary Antisar Abu Amara have an open war, which they started against me.”
Suha Arafat says of Abu Amara, “She is an Israeli Shin Bet agent and she knows that I know all her secrets. Tell our members in the Shin Bet that Abu Amara is no longer a security asset, just as Abu Mazen’s entire rule is not a security asset for Israel, and only thanks to it [Israel] he can survive and maintain his seat.”
Abu Amara is the head of Abu Mazen’s bureau and is considered an ironwoman who, along with his associates, including Hussein A-Sheikh, the PA’s Minister of Civil Affairs, and Colonel Majed Faraj, the head of intelligence, created a very strong center of power in Ramallah.
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