Arafat blasts U.S. security adviser

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

JERUSALEM -- Yasser Arafat rebuked U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Monday for saying his Palestinian Authority is corrupt and "cavorts with terror," but the Palestinians also were trying to muster U.S. goodwill with a proposed outline for a state living in peace with Israel.

The proposal, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, appears to soften the Palestinian demand that all 1949 war refugees and their descendants have the right to return to Israel, and for the first time proposes Israeli sovereignty over part of Jerusalem's Old City.

The outline was delivered to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington last week by Palestinian Cabinet Minister Nabil Shaath, Palestinian officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israeli reaction was muted. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon maintains that a final peace deal is far off and rejects key Palestinian demands, such as a renewed division of Jerusalem and a dismantling of Jewish settlements.

Israeli government spokesman Dore Gold said he wasn't aware of the proposal and didn't know whether the Americans had passed it on to Israel, but said it was premature to discuss ideas for peace talks.

"Right now, the only realistic way we'll be able to proceed is once violence is vanquished," he said.

Also Monday, a Palestinian blew himself up on Israeli territory near the West Bank, killing only himself, and Israeli forces continued their pursuit of militants in Palestinian villages.

In El Khader, a village near Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Walid Sbeh, a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militia, witnesses and Israeli military sources said. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sbeh organized suicide attacks in Israel.

Later, Palestinian security officials said some Israeli tanks and jeeps moved into El Khader. The Israeli military had no comment.

Near Ramallah, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian who was pushing a cart, Palestinians said. Another man was wounded. The Israeli military had no comment.

Building a fence

Also, Palestinian witnesses said Israeli tanks and jeeps surrounded the house of Hamas fugitive Raed Ifrahat at the entrance to Yamoun village near Jenin. Ifrahat was not there and the soldiers left after firing tank shells near the house. The army said it blew up a car containing a bomb.

After the start of construction of the first 75-mile section of an electronic fence to keep suicide bombers from leaving the West Bank, Israeli officials said planning would begin soon to extend the fence to cover a total of 215 miles -- roughly the length of the unmarked edge of the West Bank.

More than 220 Israelis have been killed in the past 21 months by suicide bombers, all from the West Bank.

Arafat has been under U.S. and Israeli pressure to curb attacks on Israel, and both nations have urged elections and reforms in Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

Rice, in an interview with The Mercury News of San Jose, Calif., said a Palestinian state should not be based on the Authority, which she said is "corrupt and cavorts with terror."

Asked about Rice's comment, Arafat said Monday: "She does not have the right to put or impose orders on us about what to do or not to do."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: