Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said Friday that the Arab world was "up to" the challenge, when asked about Israel's threats to interrupt the peace process after an emergency Arab summit in Cairo.
"It's a statement we expected. It's a statement directed arrogantly at all Arab leaders and we're up to it," Arafat told AFP after a meeting with Iraqi Vice President Ezzat Ibrahim ahead of the summit on Saturday and Sunday.
"The children of the Arab nation are stronger than any statement," Arafat said.
The Palestinian leader was responding to remarks by Israeli spokesman Avi Pezner who said the government would rethink the whole peace process because of the latest escalation in violence.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak said later that the "time-out" would last "as long as necessary."
Nine Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops on Friday in the worst incidents since an Israeli-Palestinian truce was agreed at a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on Tuesday.
Arafat, when asked about the truce upon arriving for the summit, told journalists earlier: "That's what I've come to discuss here."
His spokesman Nabil Abu Roudeina meanwhile blamed Israel for the outburst of violence in the Palestinian territories.
"It's a new provocation and a new violation of the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement," he told AFP. "It's a message of defiance to the Arab summit and Israel must accept responsibility for the deterioration of the situation."
In Jerusalem, Israel's Acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami accused the Palestinians on Friday of smashing the ceasefire accord, saying Israel had held to its conditions.
He accused the Tanzim militia of Arafat's Fateh faction of igniting violence in east Jerusalem and the West Bank on Thursday.
Also arriving for the Arab summit in Egypt were Presidents Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, Omar el-Beshir of Sudan, Emile Lahoud of Lebanon, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen and Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti.
Other arrivals were Jordan's King Abdullah II, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz, Kuwait's acting Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah and the military leader of the Comoro Islands, Colonel Azali Assoumani.
Also landing in Egypt were Oman's Deputy Prime Minister for Cabinet Affairs Fahd bin Mahmud al-Said and Sheikh Rashed bin Maktum al-Maktum, deputy president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates -- CAIRO (AFP)
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