Council for the National Interest

Setting the record straight: Arafat was not corrupt

Jan 30 2014 / 2:28 am

By Alan Hart.

Arafat was not personally corrupt and did NOT steal any money let alone “billions”.

What he did do, as his most senior leadership colleagues told me, and he himself subsequently confirmed to me, was tolerate corruption in some around him. Why did he do that? Because the PLO was penetrated not only by Western agents but also those of the impotent, corrupt and repressive Arab regimes; and if he had not tolerated corruption he would not have been able to keep the PLO and Fatah together and pursue his policy of politics and compromise with Israel.

The bottom line truth about Arafat is that he prepared the ground on his side for peace on terms which any rational government and (Jewish) people in Israel would have accepted with relief. On Nasser’s advice he was himself reconciled to the need for the Palestinians to face the reality of Israel’s existence as far back as 1969, but it took him long 10 years to sell unthinkable compromise to first to/DELETE his Fatah leadership colleagues and then the PNC (the highest decision making body on the Palestinian side). In 1979 the PNC endorsed his two-state policy by 296 votes to 4.

Two years before he was murdered (I think Dahlan administered the polonium for the Israelis) I asked him if he had made the biggest mistake of his life with the Oslo process. He said no and that it could have worked if the major powers, America especially, had helped him to make it work. I think he was right.

I am confident that my view about Arafat as expressed above represents the truth because, although I say it myself, there is no non-Palestinian who knew Arafat better than I. I spent a whole year living and travelling with him and his most senior and trusted leadership colleagues to talk out of them the material for my book Arafat – Terrorist or Peacemaker? (which was published in America as Arafat). Then I acted as the linkman in a secret and exploratory dialogue between him and Shimon Peres who, at the time, was the leader of the Labour opposition to the Likud-led government of Menachem Begin. (Peres said he was trusting me with his political future. Arafat said he was trusting me with his life). Shortly before Abu Jihad was murdered in Tunis by the Israelis, he said that he thought I knew Arafat better than all but a handful of his most trusted leadership colleagues.


Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama correspondent and an author. He has been engaged with the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel for nearly half a century and is probably the only person in the world who enjoyed intimate access to, and on the human level friendship with, arguably the two greatest opposites in all of human history – Golda Meir, Mother Israel, and Yasser Arafat, Father Palestine. His latest book, three volumes in its American edition published by Clarity Press, is Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews..

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