Arafat in latest town to be 'freed'

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The Independent Online
Jerusalem - Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, yesterday paid his first visit to Jenin, the first of six towns on the West Bank from which Israeli troops will withdraw before Christmas, writes Patrick Cockburn.

He told thousands of cheering Palestinians they had been "liberated" under a peace deal which would continue despite the assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin. Protected by hundreds of bodyguards Mr Arafat arrived for his four-hour visit by helicopter from Gaza.

Mr Arafat said: "The peace process goes on. Nobody will be an obstacle, especially those who use their guns for assassination. My brothers, this is the peace movement in the land of prophecy and so we should put our hands together to build the Palestinian state."

"It's a great day," said Ihsan Tamrawi, an engineer in Jenin. "Our dreams have come true and we saw Yasser Arafat in the liberated land of Palestine."

Elsewhere in the West Bank, 10 Palestinian police officers arrived in Tulkarm to prepare for Israel's withdrawal from there next month.