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Friday, September 12, 2003

COMPLETE TEXT of Israeli Cabinet Communique

Arafat is a "complete obstacle" - Israel will "work to remove this obstacle"
"Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has today, 11.9.2003. instructed the security forces to act relentlessly, continuously and determinedly to eliminate the terrorist organizations and take all appropriate measures against their leaders, commanders and operatives until their criminal activity is halted.

The aforementioned activity will continue night and day, uninterruptedly, until such time as the Israeli government is satisfied that the Palestinian Authority is taking tangible steps to dismantle and eliminate the terrorist organizations.

Events of recent days have reiterated and proven again that Yasser Arafat is a complete obstacle to any process of reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel will work to remove this obstacle in a manner, and at a time, of its choosing.

Israel is not interested in the question of the identity of the Palestinian Prime Minister; however, Israel must underscore its position that it will negotiate only with a Prime Minister who acts immediately to dismantle and remove the terrorist organizations, implements and carries out full reforms of the Palestinian Authority, and fully upholds the other commitments that the Palestinian Authority has taken upon itself according to the roadmap, as it has been adopted by the Israeli government.

The Israeli government rejects any idea of a ceasefire as a way of dealing with terror; terror will stop only after the terrorist organizations have been dismantled and liquidated. This is the obligation of the Palestinian Authority and it will be judged solely by its actions and results, not by its statements and declarations.

To these ends, the Cabinet authorizes Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to use such military forces as may be necessary for increased activity against the terrorist organizations; the Cabinet further directs that the necessary means for the foregoing be put at the disposal of the security forces.

The Cabinet has decided to accelerate the construction of the security fence."
Palestinian Response
Washington Post:
(AP) Israel issued an ominous threat Thursday to "remove" Yasser Arafat because he has failed to halt suicide bombings. Thousands of Palestinians rushed to Arafat's compound to protect their leader, fearing Israel wants to expel or even kill him.

A defiant Arafat, grinning broadly, emerged from his sandbagged West Bank office building shortly after the Israeli security Cabinet's announcement, flashing victory signs to his supporters. "The leader is Abu Ammar," the crowd chanted, referring to Arafat by his nom de guerre.

Using a bullhorn, the 74-year-old Palestinian leader recited a passage from the Quran, the Muslim holy book, about being steadfast in the face of an oppressor. He then led the crowd in a chant, waving his finger in rhythm: "To Jerusalem, to Jerusalem, to Jerusalem."
Yahoo News: Top Stories - AFP
. . . a defiant Arafat vowed: "No one can kick me out. They can kill me kill me with bombs but I will not leave," he told reporters.

Palestinian prime minister-designate Ahmed Qorei threatened to call off efforts to form a new government after the Israeli decision. "If the government of Israel doesn't revise its position, if it continues to use the principle of force and violence against the Palestinian people and its leadership, in this case any composition of any Palestinian government will become an issue without substance," he said in a statement received by AFP. "This is the reason why I will study the possibility of suspending any efforts to form a Palestinian government under such pressure and such threats that only benefit the enemies of peace."

Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath called on Washington to use its influence to calm the situation. "It's the Israeli occupation that is the obstacle," he told CNN.

Nabil Abu Rudeina, a senior advisor to Arafat, said Israel would "pay a high price" if it went ahead with the expulsion.

Arafat was hailed by thousands of supporters as he ventured out of his headquarters after the cabinet decision. The veteran Palestinian leader was carried on a chair by his bodyguards, blew kisses and gave the victory sign after up to 3,000 supporters entered the Muqataa complex.

"With our blood and our souls we will support you, Abu Ammar," the crowd chanted, using Arafat's nom de guerre. Arafat also joined in the chanting over a loudhailer when they chanted: "With our blood and our souls we will support you Palestine."

Some of the crowd were burning tyres while others carried portraits of the 74-year-old symbol of Palestinian resistance.

More than 5,000 people also took to the streets in central Gaza City to demonstrate their support for Arafat after Islamic and nationalist factions had urged them by loudspeaker to gather.

Hundreds of gunmen opened fire into the air, shouting "Sharon go to hell", "Abu Ammar we will defend you forever" and "Revenge, Revenge".
International Response
As usual, Israel stands alone.

From U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, September 11, 2003:
QUESTION: What do you think of the Israeli Foreign Minister's recommendation that Israel expel Arafat, ignoring the advice of the United States?

MR. BOUCHER: Our position on that issue has not changed since the Secretary expressed his view on Sunday.

QUESTION: Do you -- well, can you not say it again for the occasion because, I mean, it has come up again?

MR. BOUCHER: Everybody's asked me to repeat stuff that I don't quite remember. I don't have the transcript with me, Jonathan. I did a feeble paraphrase yesterday of the Secretary's eloquent words and I would hate to do an even more feeble one today, but --

QUESTION: Well, isn't it something to the effect of that it would be counterproductive or --

MR. BOUCHER: It was, "Our view is that expelling Mr. Arafat -- our view on Mr. Arafat hasn't changed and our view is that he is part of the problem, not part of the solution. At the same time, we think it would not be helpful to expel him because it would just give him another stage to play on.

QUESTION: Richard? Follow-up on that?


QUESTION: In the Jerusalem Post they are actually calling for the killing of Arafat, saying that -- in an editorial today -- saying that even if Arafat were expelled, he would still be playing a role, and therefore, he must be eliminated. And it seems that the foreign minister also didn't express any negative comments with regard to such a fate for Arafat.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what the --

QUESTION: Won't that throw a monkey wrench, won't that throw a hand grenade into any possibilities of peace in the Middle East?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what the foreign minister was asked, nor do I know exactly what he said. But our view of Mr. Arafat and his status has not changed at all. We don't have a brief for him, but at the same time, we don't believe that dealing with Mr. Arafat in that fashion or through expulsion is going to be helpful at all to the situation.