Skip to comments.Arabs React to Arafat's Statement
Posted on 04/15/2002 6:00:43 AM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
Even Arabs who supported Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (news - web sites)'s decision to speak out against violence called it a painful choice Sunday, and many accused Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) of siding with Israel in his Mideast peace mission.
"Once again, President Arafat yields to pressure, especially American pressure," said an unsigned column in the Saudi Al Watan daily.
Arafat issued a statement Saturday condemning attacks on civilians, including a suicide bombing that killed six people in a Jerusalem market the night before, fulfilling a condition from Powell, who said he would not meet with the Palestinian leader until he denounced such attacks.
"We strongly condemn all attacks targeting civilians from both sides, and especially the attack that took place against Israeli citizens yesterday in Jerusalem," said Arafat, who also condemned what he called the "massacre" committed by Israeli troops in their West Bank offensive.
The Al Watan column said Arafat should have turned the tables on Powell, reflecting a widespread view among Arabs that U.S. policy is slanted in favor of Israel and that Powell's mission is no exception.
"Wouldn't it have been better for President Arafat to change the rules of the game by taking a courageous decision to refuse to receive Powell before Israel pulls out of the Palestinian areas?"
In Jordan, columnist Rakan al-Majali expressed support for Arafat's statement, which he described as a "painful precondition" for the meeting with Powell. The two met Sunday.
"Although this decision isn't popular, it is justified as a pillar to move toward searching for a political solution," al-Majali wrote in Ad-Dustour, Jordan's second-largest newspaper.
But al-Majali called the U.S. demand for a statement from Arafat "American political terrorism," saying, "It is illogical to ask the victim to denounce terrorism and not to ask the butcher to stop his terrorism."
In the Saudi-owned, London-based Al Hayat daily, Saudi columnist Dawood al-Shirian also accused the United States of supporting Israel's West Bank offensive and warned it would prompt terrorist attacks against the United States.
Israel's incursion in the West Bank "is more of a threat to American interests than the New York and Washington attacks and it will create a terror that is fiercer than al-Qaida's terror," al-Shirian wrote.
In Syria, the state-run Tishrin newspaper expressed disappointment that the United States has not forced Israel to withdraw its forces from Palestinian areas. Israel ignored repeated U.S. calls for a swift withdrawal.
"We had expected that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell would take a strict stand toward Israel's dangerous violations of U.N. principles," Tishrin said. "But what happened was absolutely the opposite."
In Damascus, about 200 Syrian lawyers staged a government-approved demonstration against Israel's conduct on the West Bank.
Israel, "with suspicious international silence and flagrant U.S. collusion, is disregarding all international accords and resolutions and conducting the most horrible aspects of Nazi practices," the lawyers said in a statement.
Protests that had swept the Arab world since Israel launched the West Bank offensive March 29 have begun to taper off, but about 7,000 students rallied peacefully Sunday at Egypt's Alexandria University, where one student was killed and more than 200 injured last Tuesday in clashes with police.
In Oman, two pro-Palestinian rallies turned violent for the first time, with protesters smashing the windows of two McDonald's restaurants in the capital, Muscat, and in Sahar, 125 miles north.
But on Sunday and Egyptian state airline resumed flights to Israel, two days after it halted the service to respond to public anger over Israel's military offensive on the West Bank.
An Air Sinai official said a plane flew to Tel Aviv on Sunday morning. Air Sinai is a subsidiary of EgyptAir, the government-owned national carrier.
Ah, yes ... destroy that hated Jewish symbol of kosher dining ... McDonald's.
Translation: Arafat only said it because he was forced to. He doesn't really mean it and everyone should carry on killing Jews just the same.