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Monday, September 15, 2003

Sunday NYTimes gives headlines to "Arafat Says"

Arafat Says Israelis Are Trying to End Palestinian Self-Rule by James Bennet
JERUSALEM, Sept. 13 — Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, accused Israel today of seeking to destroy Palestinian self-rule with its intention, declared on Thursday, to "remove" him, but Israeli officials defended the policy as legitimate self-defense.

The Israeli decision, which followed two Hamas suicide bombings that killed 15 people, brought a range of criticism from around the world, including from the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, and the European Union. The Bush administration said deporting Mr. Arafat might be counterproductive.

But Raanan Gissin, the spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said, "Israel has the right, as do other countries, to use Article 51, the right of self-defense, to remove an obstacle to peace." Article 51 of the United Nations Charter gives member countries the right to defend themselves, individually or collectively, against armed attack.

Israel accuses Mr. Arafat of direct involvement in terrorism, which he denies. Some Israeli officials argued that Israel was doing what the United States had done in Iraq, though, one noted acidly, Saddam Hussein, unlike Mr. Arafat, "wasn't 7 miles, 10 miles away from their major population centers."

Palestinians argue that it is they who are under attack, and that they have a right under international law to resist the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Further, they note, Mr. Arafat was popularly elected as president of the governing Palestinian Authority in internationally supervised elections.

Mr. Arafat told diplomats visiting him today at his compound in Ramallah, in the West Bank, "The danger here concerns Israel's determination to cancel the Palestinian partner and the Palestinian Authority." Israel denied that that was its intention.

The onetime peace partners were trading accusations on the 10th anniversary of the White House signing ceremony for the Oslo accords, which were intended to produce a lasting peace between them.

At the request of the Palestinian Ministry of Education, teachers brought thousands of schoolchildren to Mr. Arafat's compound today in the latest show of support for the longtime Palestinian leader.

Violence continued today. Overnight in the West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli troops shot and killed an elderly bystander during a clash with gunmen, Palestinian authorities said.

An Israeli security official said Israel was investigating the report. It said that soldiers were on a mission to arrest terrorist suspects, and that they opened fire only after Palestinian gunmen attacked them.
Bennet leaves this unimportant tidbit to the very end, to be seen only by the most stalwart and dedicated readers:
The Israeli Army said soldiers searching a Palestinian village near Bethlehem today found three explosive belts for use in suicide bombings. It said the belts had been hidden in a butcher shop, inside a boxed laundry machine.

The combined weight of the explosives was 44 pounds, and the belts were packed with nails and small iron balls, the army said.
P.S. Al Azzariya, the Arab village where the explosives were found, is closer to Jerusalem than to Bethlehem; it is, in fact, frequently described as a suburb of East Jerusalem.
From JPost:

The information that led the Border Police to find the three explosives belts, to be used by suicide bombers, was supplied by several Palestinians who were detained in the past few days by the General Security Service (Shabak). Reports indicate that the belts belonged to Hamas terrorists who were planning a suicide attack in the capital in the near future.