Hamas: Israel responsible for Arafat demise; Sharon terms death as ''historic turning point''
Hamas political cheif, Khaled Mashal on Thursday morning accused Israel of killing Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat. "I say, and do not hesitate, that I hold Israel responsible for the crime of the death of Arafat ... All reports by doctors in the last two weeks indicate he was poisoned," Mashal told the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television by telephone.
On Tuesday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath told reporters that French doctors' diagnosis "had ruled out poisoning totally."
In 1997, two Mossad agents were captured in Amman after trying to poison Mashal. "French and Arab doctors may not be able to find evidence as they could not find proof in my blood when I was poisoned but Israel was forced then to bring an antidote after two of its agents were held in Jordan," Mashal said.
"Israel by killing Arafat has killed the peace settlement and is sending a clear message to Palestinians and Arabs that this will be the fate of whoever rejects a settlement according to Israeli conditions."
Hamas added Arafat's death would strengthen its resolve to keep up attacks against Israel. "The loss of the great leader will increase our determination and steadfastness to continue Jihad and resistance against the Zionist enemy until victory and liberation is achieved," Hamas said in statement.
Meanwhile in Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Thursday that Arafat's death could serve as a "historic turning point in the Middle East" and that Israel would continue in efforts to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.
At the start of his meeting with Italian Deputy Prime
Minister Gianfranco Fini, Sharon said: "Recent events are likely to constitute a turning point in Middle Eastern history. Israel, which is a peace-seeking country, will - of course - continue with its efforts to reach a diplomatic settlement with the Palestinians without delay. I hope that the new Palestinian leadership that will arise will understand that progress in relations and in the resolution of problems depends - first and foremost - on the cessation of terrorism and their fighting terrorism." (albawaba.com)