Arafat: Israel was 'really stupid' to withdraw from Lebanon

Ex-Foreign Minister reveals conversation with late PLO, PA leader Yasser Arafat. 'Really foolish for Israel to leave Lebanon.'

David Rosenberg , | updated: 10:15 PM

Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Flash 90

Arch-terrorist and Palestinian Authority chief Yasser Arafat was stunned by Israel’s decision to withdraw from southern Lebanon in 2000, calling the move 'totally foolish', a former Israeli diplomat claims.

Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel’s Foreign Minister during Ehud Barak’s term as premier, met with Arafat during the Camp David Summit in July 2000, which then-President Bill Clinton had hosted in the hopes of enabling the Barak government and Arafat to reach a final status agreement.

During the summit, Ben-Ami revealed to Channel 10 in an interview aired Thursday as the Palestinian Authority marks the 13th anniversary of Arafat’s death, Arafat expressed disbelief at Israel’s willingness to abandon its positions in southern Lebanon, despite ongoing attacks by the Hezbollah terror organization.

Fulfilling one of his campaign promises made prior to the 1999 election, Prime Minister Barak withdrew Israeli forces from the security belt it had established in southern Lebanon, removing all Israeli forces in the spring of 2000.

Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon continued their attacks on Israel, including a series of cross-border raids which killed IDF soldiers operating inside sovereign Israeli territory.

Speaking with Ben-Ami during the Camp David Summit in July of 2000, Arafat mocked Israel’s withdrawal, calling it “complete foolishness”.

“Complete foolishness,” Arafat said, according to Ben-Ami. “How foolish you [Israelis] were when you left Lebanon unilaterally. There were five-hundred fighters there that we were financing and training, and they managed to throw you out of Lebanon, and here I am negotiating with you.”

During the Channel 10 segment, journalist Tzvi Yehezkel revealed some behind-the-scenes moments with Arafat in the years following Camp David, after the Second Intifada erupted.

Yehezkel described Arafat’s duplicity when dealing with foreign diplomats.

“I spent many hours with Arafat. I connected with him. He was ensconced in the Muqata [compound in Ramallah], but there were ways of getting in touch with him; he was very interested in the Israeli media.”

“He would down with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and tell her ‘I’m against terror attacks’ – and then he’d turn around and call up his ‘soldiers’ and order them to commit a terror attack.”