Apr 09 2002

Arafat has condemned terror in Arabic Bush must condemn Israeli actions

Published by at 12:00 am under Articles,Palestinian politics

The Palestinian president Yasser Arafat besieged by the Israelis in Ramallah since last December and imprisoned in his office since March 29 has repeatedly condemned suicide bombings that have killed innocent Israelis. It is time for the US president to condemn the latest Israeli indiscriminate violence against innocent Palestinians.

Violent attacks against innocent civilians are reprehensible. No one should be immune from criticism not even the United State’s strategic ally, Israel.

In an important talk about the Middle East situation last week, US President George Bush has singled out Yasser Arafat for criticism. In remarks made during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair April 6 President Bush appears to have bought into the Israeli propaganda. Speaking at Crawford High School in Texas, the president called on Arafat to condemn terror. “He needs to speak clearly, in Arabic, to the people of that region and condemn terrorist activities. At the very minimum, he ought to at least say something.

Sorry Mr. President but Arafat has spoken out repeatedly and consistently in Arabic against terror and suicide attacks. On March 28th at 1400GMT the Voice of Palestine ran the following story quoting in Arabic quoting PA official Ahmed Abdel Rahman denouncing the Netanya suicide attack:

“The Palestinian leadership strongly denounces the Netanya operation against Israeli civilians, particularly because it was carried out today, during the Passover and when General Zinni is continuing his mission to bring about a cease-fire. ”

The following day Arafat spoke on Palestine TV at 2008 GMT stating in Arabic

“I would like once again to reiterate our condemnation of yesterday’s operation in Netanya, in which a number of innocent Israeli civilians were killed and wounded. This operation constitutes a deviation from our policy and a violation of our national and human values. I affirm our commitment to working toward an immediate cease-fire, as we informed General Zinni. We highly value his efforts. We informed him that we are ready for the immediate implementation of the Tenet’s work plan without conditions, and without prejudicing any of its articles.”

These statements, which were broadcast on Palestinian media, were later rebroadcast on tens of Arabic language radio and television channels.

This is not the first time that the US administration has adopted undocumented Israelis claims. Six years earlier when Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister a similar claim was made that what Arafat says in English he doesn’t say in Arabic. At that time a bipartisan committee of the US congress was formed to investigate that claim. Three months and after reviewing thousands of documents, the congressional committee came back negative. There was no difference, they stated.

Ironically, while the US has avoided to recognize the statements by Arafat denouncing terrorism, they have themselves refused to make a single statement denouncing what the Israeli army has done to the Palestinian population. Tens of civilians have been killed hundreds injured; hundreds of thousands have been imprisoned in their homes without basic subsistence for days. Ambulances have been run over by Israeli tanks, Red Cross officials denied freedom of movement, journalists have been shot at, one Italian journalist killed, and pregnant women and or their babies have died at checkpoints. Even an American Palestinian bled to death in Ramallah without the Israelis allowing her and her children needed emergency care. Islamic holy places have been defiled, Christian leaders have been denied permission to visit their parishes in the birthplace of Christ and three million Palestinians remain in a big jail with the Israelis holding the keys. In all these stark violations of Palestinian human rights, the United States government has not said any word in English, Hebrew or any other language.

President Bush says he is unhappy with the leadership of Yasser Arafat. The Palestinian leader who was duly elected in free and fair elections supervised among others by former US President Carter has responded to this interference in Palestinian political life. Speaking on Palestine Television at 1600 GMT on December 16th from his Ramallah office Arafat again, in Arabic, condemned terror and offered a democratic solution to the issue of his leadership.

“Today, I emphasize once again the complete and immediate halt to all armed operations. Once again, I call for a complete halt to all operations, especially suicidal operations, which we have always condemned.

“I would like to seize this opportunity to assert our democratic option. We are ready to hold democratic elections in all sectors, whether municipal or legislative, when secure circumstances are available.”

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