Middle East: the chronicle of an eternal war

A special large-scale operation has been carried by the Israeli army on the Palestinian territory for the second day. The results of this operation can be summed up.

Israel called Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat an enemy to Jews and claimed responsibility for the annihilation of the "terrorist" centers on Palestinian territory. Troops have been moved into the Gaza strip and the West Bank. The territories have been divided into sectors, in which Israeli policemen are conducting a mopping up operation with the support of the army. Border crossings have been blocked. After the US support of Israel's activities voiced by US Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday, Israel is now going to proceed and completely clean the occupied territories o suspected terrorists. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that “the cost of the talks with Palestinians is too high for us.” This means that no talks are likely to be started until the conclusion of the current operation.

The USA is annoyed with the situation, but Washington will not stop the furious Sharon. Further action of the US will depend on the success of the current Israeli operation. This is quite a reasonable position, but not everything depends on Israel. The Arab world, as expected, is supporting Arafat’s struggle against Israel. Libyan leader Muammar Kaddafi even suggested that an emergency Arab summit should be held to recall the Arab peace initiative. In his interview to Al Jazeera, Kaddafi said that he had suggested the idea of an emergency summit to Egypt President Hosni Mubarak. A summit is planned to be held in Cairo for the cancellation of the Arab peace initiative adopted at the Beirut summit. It should be mentioned that the plan was not accepted by Israel. Kaddafi said that Yasser Arafat is a hero of Palestinian opposition who may become saint if dies. His opinion is that the USA has completely ignored Arab concerns regarding Israel’s intrusion into Ramallah.

What about Yasser Arafat? Where is he and with whom? Yesterday, Israeli soldiers stormed his residence in Ramallah. CBS reports that five Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers were killed. About 30 soldiers from Arafat’s private security force were wounded in the operation. The number of wounded Israeli has not been reported. By Saturday morning, Israeli commandos captured the offices of the Palestinian administration in Ramallah, with the exception of Arafat’s private offices only.

Currently, Yasser Arafat is on the third floor of the residence, which is not being fired upon. However, contact with him cannot be established; his last interview was given to CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour via mobile phone, and Arafat’s words were emotional. He said that seven Palestinian headquarter buildings were completely destroyed and that “the office is surrounded and fired upon by Israelis." Arafat was asked what he is going to do to stop acts of terrorism directed against Israel. His words were that the “Palestinians are victims of terrorist activities, Israeli occupation first and foremost.”

The first reaction of the world community to the events appeared only on Friday evening. The UN Security Council summoned an emergency session. US spokesman in the UN James Cunningham spoke at the session. He asked the Israeli government to guarantee Arafat’s complete security: “Yasser Arafat is the Palestinian leader, and his participation is of considerable importance for the restoration of peace in the region.” At the same time, the diplomat admitted that “Israel has the right to self-defense”. James Cunningham said that Ariel Sharon's government and he personally should “carefully consider the further consequences of their actions.” The Mideast violence needs to be stopped, said the US diplomat. All participants of the Mideast peace process have to advance the establishment of peace in the region.

The USA is making every effort to bring about a cease fire, and, for this very purpose, General Anthony Zinni is still present in the region. Despite the events of the last two days, he will strive for realization of the Tenet plan.

Palestinian representative in the UN Naser al-Kidwa stated that the storming of Arafat’s residence in Ramallah was “the frantic action” of the Israeli leadership. The Palestinian diplomat admits that the actions of Israel “have posed a threat to personal security of the legitimate head of the Palestinian Authority.”

In addition, work on the text of UN Security Council’s address continues. A RIA Novosti correspondent reported that the USA will probably not hamper the passing of the resolution.

Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/30/39042.html

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