Report: Arafat Seeks Turkey’s Mediation to Meet Sharon
Israeli reports said Friday that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has asked the Turkish government to help set up a meeting with Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon.
Haaretz newspaper claimed that Arafat had turned to Turkey after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak turned down a similar request during his meeting with the Palestinian President in Cairo Thursday.
Sharon said that he was only willing to meet with Arafat if Palestinians agree to end the violence and renew security cooperation with Israel, said Haaretz.
Meanwhile, Israeli President Moshe Katsav said Friday that he was ready to meet Arafat, but setting the same conditions asked by Sharon.
Katsav wants to see the dialogue between Israel and the PA resumed, said the Post, adding that any meeting between him and Arafat should be used to move the peace process forward.
"Israeli security forces can abort terrorism, but Arafat can prevent it in the first place,” Katsav was quoted as telling Israel Radio.
“He [Arafat] has the tools and the wherewithal, but he isn't doing much to stop the terrorism," he added.
Meanwhile, outgoing Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami said that Arafat "lacks trustworthiness," according to AFP.
"Arafat reminds me of a man who goes to the souk and haggles, beating down the price as low as possible, then goes away without buying anything," said Ben Ami, in an interview with the French daily Liberation.
"He doesn't want to make peace unless all factions of his camp are happy. That's impossible," the minister said.
He said that the initiatives of the outgoing administration of Ehud Barak were "the closest we have got to peace.
"The problem is that Arafat has undermined the solidarity of the peace camp in Israel," with the result that Barak was booted out of office in favour of hawkish prime minister-elect Ariel Sharon, he added.
The Jerusalem Post said, meanwhile, that Arafat traveled to Libya on his tour of Arab states to gather support for a common Arab position on the Intifada and the peace process at the upcoming Arab summit in March.
Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abbed Rabbo was quoted Thursday as telling the Voice of Palestine that the Palestinians expect the summit to pressure the world to provide protection for the Palestinian people from Israeli military attacks.
Abbed Rabbo said the Arabs should also declare that any negotiations with Israel must resume where they left off – Albawaba.com
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