Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Shevat 5762 - January 30, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Bush: Arafat Misled Me
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

US President George W. Bush telephoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak early this week and said Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat had misled him about his commitment to fighting terror.

Bush said that he "was led to believe [Arafat] was willing to join us in the fight on terror. I took him at his word."

This disappointment has fueled a US reassessment of relations with Arafat and the PA. Arafat is already persona non grata at the White House, and the US has not asked Israel to let him out of Ramallah where he has been confined for several weeks.

The capture of 50 tons of smuggled offensive weapons aboard the Karine A apparently caused President Bush's awakening. Vice President Dick Cheney also echoed Bush's disappointment on talk shows and said he does not believe Arafat's denials regarding the ship.

Mubarak, too, said he has been angry with Arafat over the smuggling attempt. The ship would have passed through the Suez Canal and had Egyptian sailors aboard. Mubarak has told visitors he rarely speaks to Arafat anymore and their relationship has deteriorated.

European Union officials, however, threw beleaguered Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat a lifeline this week, saying said Israel needs Arafat as a partner both to eradicate terror and to work towards peace.

The declaration by EU foreign ministers at the end of a meeting in Brussels is in stark contrast to the tone of statements from Washington. The statement that emerged from the EU meeting read: "Israel needs the Palestinian Authority and its elected president, Yasser Arafat, as a partner to negotiate with, both in order to eradicate terrorism and to work towards peace. Their capacity to fight terrorism must not be weakened."

At the same time, EU ministers called on the PA and Arafat to "do everything to put an end to terrorism and the armed intifadah, dismantle all the terrorist networks and arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of terrorist acts."

One diplomatic official said, however, the declaration is obviously a step back from the Laeken declaration of EU heads of state last month, which for the first time called on the PA to dismantle the "terrorist networks" of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and declare an end to the violence.

This week's declaration, like the one at Laeken, included a censure of Israel.

The EU foreign ministers also complained about Israel's destruction of facilities built with their financial aid, and threatening to demand compensation. This includes the PA airport in Gaza and a building and equipment of the PA Broadcast Authority. Foreign Minister Peres said that Israel would tally the destruction of property that had been donated by the Europeans.

However Peres's remarks elicited an angry reaction from Minister without Portfolio Dan Naveh, who was appointed to head a panel to assess the overall financial cost to Israel of the 16 months of violence.

Naveh said Peres made a "grave diplomatic mistake" by agreeing to even discuss the matter. He said there is "absolutely no room" to talk of compensation to the EU.

"On principle we should tell the Europeans that all claims should be directed toward the Palestinians, who started the war and continue to wage it," Naveh said. "We are the victims of the terror. All we are doing is employing the use of self defense guaranteed under international law. We have to defend ourselves, even on their territory."

Naveh said his panel will come up with an analysis of the direct and indirect costs of the violence, including money paid by the NII to terror victims, money paid to restore property damaged in attacks, and also estimates of the loss in tourism revenue and loss of investments.

According to Naveh, even though the establishment of the panel had nothing to do with the EU projects, the panel's findings could be used in replying to various compensation claims.

Naveh said one option that will be considered will be to use the more than NIS 1 billion in tax monies due the PA that Israel has collected but not transferred to the PA to defray the cost of the violence.


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