Sharon in new threat to 'remove' Arafat

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, revived the threat of a military move against Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority President, last night.

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, revived the threat of a military move against Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority President, last night.

Mr Sharon was said, by Israeli television, to have indicated that Mr Arafat cannot remain confined to his Muqata headquarters in Ramallah forever. Mr Sharon said it was not impossible that Israel would act against him.

His remarks were being interpreted in Israel as largely designed to reassure the right wing of his Likud party, as he seeks to convince them of the wisdom of his plan to disengage from Gaza ahead of a planned referendum of party members if, and when, he secures US backing for the plan.

Some right-wing ministers would like to see the implementation of a Cabinet decision taken in principle last September to "remove" Mr Arafat from the Muqata. There were hints last week, after the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, that Mr Arafat could be a target.

At the same time, Israeli intelligence has been laying increasing emphasis on the part played by militants linked to Fatah in suicide attacks. Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence agency, has suggested that up to 20 prominent militants are sheltering in the Muqata. But as one government source stressed that there had been "no change of policy" since the September Cabinet decision, doubts remained over whether there were any plans to move against Mr Arafat in the foreseeable future.

Comments