Arafat Calls Sharon with Passover Wishes
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat spoke by telephone to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Saturday to express his good wishes for the Jewish feast of the Passover, reported Haaretz newspaper.
This is the third time Arafat and Sharon spoke by telephone.
Arafat also called Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Meretz party leader Yossi Sarid, said the paper.
A Palestinian official confirmed the call, saying it was made earlier Saturday and was a matter of "protocol."
"The Palestinian president merely wanted to offer his wishes for the Jewish Passover," the official told AFP, declining to give further details.
Arafat first called Sharon after he was elected prime minister in February.
US Spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters on Thursday that Arafat Ariel Sharon “were in contact directly” following the shooting incident of a Palestinian convoy carrying Palestinian security officials who took part Wednesday in the security meeting in Tel Aviv.
Palestinians accused Israel of deliberately shooting at the convoy of vehicles, while Israeli security officials said that the Palestinians were the first to fire at Israeli soldiers.
“When he heard about it [shooting], the Secretary [Collin Powell] immediately telephoned Sharon,” Boucher told reporters at a press conference of which Albawaba.com received an e-mail transcript.
“He also spoke with Chairman Arafat to discuss what happened,” he said.
Israel does have a responsibility to provide for the safety and security of Palestinian officials traveling to and from the security meetings, said the US spokesman.
Prior to these meetings, we had been assured by Israeli officials that this would be the case. At this point, the details and the circumstances of the incident are not entirely clear, but I would point out the Secretary did receive assurances from Sharon that there was no plan and no intent to attack this convoy.
“Prime Minister Sharon also told the Secretary that his office would be looking into the incident further.”
Boucher told reporters that the security meeting resulted in establishing direct contacts between the two sides.
“We would note that in this incident, not only did we talk to Prime Minister Sharon and we talked to Chairman Arafat, but also apparently Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat talked to each other about it, and we would encourage that kind of cooperation.”
Palestinian and Israeli officials said that nothing was achieved during the meeting, but stressed that similar meetings will continue in the coming days – Albawaba.com