Arafat vows intifada will continue : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Sunday, October 22 5:52 AM SGT

Arafat vows intifada will continue but aide tempers his remarks CAIRO, Oct 21 (AFP) - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat vowed Saturday to continue the uprising against Israel, at an Arab summit that toiled to find a way to condemn the Jewish state while salvaging the peace process.

His comments appeared to bin a US-brokered truce with Israel made four days ago at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit in Egypt which aimed at ending three weeks of Israeli-Palestinian clashes that have left over 120 people dead.

But the Palestinians later tempered their statements, with information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo saying Arafat meant that "peaceful demonstrations" would continue to express "rage" against Israeli occupation.

Abed Rabbo said the violence had only erupted due to "excessive" Israeli army action condemned late Friday by the United Nations General Assembly, turning the tables on Israel which has put the onus on Arafat to end the violence.

Arafat, wearing his usual khakhi battledress and black-and-white checkered headdress, earlier told Egyptian television: "The intifada (uprising) will continue and it will win."

There was no immediate Israeli reaction to his television statement, but an Israeli government spokesman slammed Arafat's speech at the summit opening as "provocative" and proof that he was little interested in peace.

"It looks now very clear that Arafat is not going to implement the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement," spokesman Nachman Shai told the press in Jerusalem.

Palestinian observers said the speech, in which Arafat complained that Israel was "massacring" his people, was actually far tamer than expected.

He recalled that peace was a "strategic choice" for the Palestinians who would continue to work "for liberation of their land" while warning Israel that its actions at holy sites in the disputed and highly sensitive city of Jerusalem could spark "wars of religion."

He alleged that the Palestinians had been the victims of an Israeli "plot" which began when Israel's hawkish opposition leader Ariel Sharon defiantly visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in east Jerusalem on September 28.

He charged that Sharon's visit "was in concert with the government" of Prime Minister Ehud Barak and had prompted a "spontaneous and legitimate popular uprising" by the Palestinians.

"Our people are faced with a collective massacre," said the septuagenarian leader in a forcefully read speech, during which he occasionally stammered out his words.

Arafat said that 193 Palestinians had died and 7,000 others had been wounded since Sharon's visit. According to an AFP toll, 128 people have died in the violence, all but eight of them Palestinians or Israeli Arabs.

The "Palestinian uprising ... is only a stage in the long march of the Palestinian people" which must lead to an "Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories and the return of refugees," he added.

He urged the international community to "live up to its responsibilities" and paid tribute to US President Bill Clinton's efforts in Sharm el-Sheikh, which resulted in the Israeli-Palestinian commitment to a ceasefire.

The ceasefire collapsed on Friday as nine Palestinians were killed and 200 wounded, with both sides blaming the other for the renewed violence.

Five more Palestinians were killed on Saturday.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 22, 2000


The Israelis and Arabs have been fighting off and on since, I believe, 1948, when the Jewish state was established....why should anyone expect this to end now?

-- R2D2 (, October 22, 2000.

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