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Powell Arafat Meeting Set For Monday

Powell Arafat Meeting Set For Monday

First published on Spectator.co.nz…

By Selwyn Manning.


A meeting is back on between Arafat and Powell – as the US claws back purpose to its peacemaking mission in the Middle East.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is to be given a clear message on Monday from US Secretary of State Colin Powell – the US wants "effective action".

Powell will demand Arafat curb terrorist strikes by Palestinians against Israeli civilians and balance this by insisting Israel use “restraint” in its forces in the West Bank.

It’s virtually an impossible call on both counts.

Clearly, Palestinian security forces were targeted by the Israeli offensive as soldiers stormed through West Bank towns and cities – particularly Ramallah. This destroyed Arafat’s ability to bring about any order within the territories he resides over, his confinement within the tank surrounded compound has left him isolated and ineffective. Hamas spokesperson, Ismail Abu Shanab, defied Arafat’s call - saying last night attacks against Israel would continue.

Powell’s call for Israeli “restraint” in the West Bank and Gaza is too watered down, too late, and clearly an appeasement, a back-down from the strong worded demands of a week ago [that the IDF withdrawal immediately from Palestinian Territories and with haste – the US President’s demands were totally ignored.

Last night Arafat did issue a statement denouncing terror and condemning a Jerusalem suicide bombing on Friday, as well as reaffirmation of a Palestinian commitment to a negotiated peace with Israel.

This was the statement US President George W Bush was looking. It has paved the way for Powell to meet in Ramallah. Powell followed saying Israeli troops must refrain from "excessive use of force," and singled out Jenin for special concern. "We are particularly concerned at the humanitarian situation," Powell said.

Arafat’s statement also hit back at Israel. He said: “We also condemn very strongly the massacre that was committed by the Israeli occupation troops against our refugees in Jenin and against our people in Ramallah, Nablus and Tulkarem and also the brutal aggression against the church in Bethlehem during the last two weeks.”

Arafat's statement, in Arabic, was distributed by the Palestinian news service WAFA and was read several times on Palestinian television and radio, giving it the circulation the Bush administration wanted.

Hamas spokesperson, Ismail Abu Shanab, said attacks would continue. "We have the full right to react without any limitation against the state terrorism of Israel," he said.

Israeli forces moved into more West Bank villages Saturday and arrested 40 suspected militants. Several Israeli tanks shelled the Palestinian government complex in Nablus.

In Nablus, a Palestinian reportedly said eight of his relatives - including a pregnant woman - were crushed when Israeli bulldozers demolished a building last week. The Israeli military said it wasn't aware of the deaths. Several Israeli tanks shelled the Palestinian government complex in Nablus on Saturday, punching large holes in the building. Israel is preventing independent observers or journalists to enter the occupied areas – sealing them off to outside eyes.

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