Arafat Decides Not To Attend Arab Summit
Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said Tuesday night that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has decided not to attend the Arab summit, scheduled to begin Wednesday in Beirut.
"President Arafat has consulted with his leadership and has studied the issue carefully. He has decided not to allow Israel to pressure the Palestinian negotiators into submitting to Israeli conditions, and so he decided not to go to the summit," Abd Rabbo said.
Arafat made his decision just hours after Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that, should the Palestinian leader be allowed to attend the summit, Israel reserves the right to prevent him returning, in the event that there are “terror” attacks during his absence.
Sharon told the Israeli TV that Arafat's departure for the Arab League summit in Beirut would be possible if two conditions are met. The first condition is that Arafat declares a cease-fire in Arabic, and addresses it to his nation. The second condition is that the United States grant Israel the option to bar Arafat's return to the territories, in the event that acts of terror are renewed during the PA Chairman's absence.
Speaking on CNN, Abd Rabbo also said that Sharon's comments were "the utmost provocation. This is the ultimate humiliation for the Palestinian people and the whole Arab world."
Abd Rabbo added that "Arafat wants guarantees from the United States, if he is to travel to Beirut. For this reason, we are not going to fall into the traps Sharon is trying to set. We also hope the U.S. administration will not play the same game."
A few hours before Arafat’s decision, Egypt announced that president Mubarak would miss the Arab summit. The decision of the Egyptian leader to pull out of the Arab summit meant that half the heads of the 22 members of the Arab League would be absent from a meeting that had been billed as historic.
Mubarak joined Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi on a long list of leaders who are skipping the Beirut summit. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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