Israeli police storm into al Aqsa compound, US envoy in Tel Aviv expresses opposition to expel Arafat
Israeli police stormed into al Aqsa Mosque compound, firing tear gas and stun grenades to disperse Muslim worshippers who threw stones after noon prayers, police and witnesses said.
There were no reports of injuries or damage at the compound. The situation has calmed and police have withdrawn.
Earlier, Israel's Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer that Israel's failure to exile Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat earlier was a "historic mistake."
Mofaz told the envoy that Israel views Arafat as an obstacle to making progress in any diplomatic process, Israel Radio reported.
Mofaz, who was meeting with Kurtzer to to discuss the late Tursday's decision to "remove" Arafat from the Palestinian territories, also said Israel remains committed to the road map and to the vision of United States President George W. Bush, according to the report.
Kurtzer reiterated the United States' opposition to exiling Arafat, and said the U.S. is still interested in implementing the road map, Israel Radio reported.
Arafat held a Palestinian security council meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday.
The U.S. has expressed repeated opposition to the decision, which the European Union, China, Egypt, Canada, Australia, and Russia also oppose. Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, said it would mobilize support from other nations that have a similar stance on the issue.
Political sources told Israel's Army Radio on Friday that Arafat would not be expelled without American agreement. The Americans contacted Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Mofaz on Wednesday night to demand that they must not expel Arafat. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)