Arafat in Brussels as Sharon, US Envoy Voice Anger at PA's ‘Lies, Leniency’

Published November 5th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat left Monday for a meeting of European and Mediterranean countries in Brussels as both Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and US Ambassador to Tel Aviv Daniel Kurtzer denounced Palestinian Authority (PA) "lies" and called it reluctant to suppress “terrorist organizations,” according to reports. 

It will be the second time in a week that Arafat and Peres will sit at the same conference table, but as in Majorca last Friday and Saturday they are not expected to engage in any negotiations. 

Arafat is to make a speech and have talks with Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, whose country currently holds the presidency of the European Union, with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Middle East envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos, AFP said. 

Meanwhile, the US ambassador to Israel on Monday urged Arafat to get tough with extremist groups, saying their frequent attacks have been a thorn in the side of the "peace process." 

Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer also said there were no plans for Arafat to meet with US President George W. Bush when he traveled to the United Nations this week. 

Speaking a day after a Palestinian gunman killed two teenagers and wounded almost 50 other people in an attack on a bus in occupied Jerusalem, Kurtzer told Arafat to shut down extremist organizations and choke off their funding. 

He told reporters in Tel Aviv that Arafat must "act against these groups themselves, shut them down, arrest those responsible and prosecute them." 

"Words are not enough to prove one is against terrorism, we need action. The challenge now is whether the Palestinian Authority is ready to take those steps," he said. 

The tough message came just days after the deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, David Satterfield, said the 13-month-old Palestinian Intifada or uprising against 34 years of Israeli occupation had become a "process of calculated terror." 

Kurtzer said Washington was "concerned that some of these groups have turned quite specifically to terrorism" and called on the Palestinian Authority to "end any support it may be giving" and choke off their finances. 

The Palestinian groups are demanding an end to Jewish settlements and military occupation on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. 

Kurtzer said there was no scheduled meeting between Bush and Arafat when the Palestinian leader traveled to the United Nations in New York at the weekend, but said one could take place "when it is deemed to be productive." 

According to the Tel Aviv-based Haretz newspaper, the United States has privately criticized Israel for pressing the Bush administration to refuse to meet Arafat, while at the same time Sharon has repeatedly approved meetings between Peres and the Palestinian president.  

A few days ago, a senior American official said in a conversation with an Israeli official: "Peres is meeting with Arafat, yet when the administration wants to hold a high-level meeting with the Palestinian leader, Israel still complains about this."  

Meanwhile, Sharon called the Palestinian Authority an 'empire of lies' on Monday. Speaking before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Sharon claimed that he and Peres were working on a diplomatic plan. Sharon claimed that the plan did not include the evacuation of settlements from the Gaza Strip, said Haaretz. 

According to The Economist magazine, Israel has "flouted" the 1993 Oslo peace accords by settling thousands of its citizens on land seized from Palestinians in 1967 – Albawaba.com 

 

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