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Arafat asks Tenet to pressure Israel, aide says

Sharon heading to Washington next week to meet Bush

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, center, meets Monday with his Cabinet in Ramallah, West Bank.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, center, meets Monday with his Cabinet in Ramallah, West Bank.  

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat asked CIA Director George Tenet on Tuesday to pressure Israel to stop its daily incursions into Palestinian cities and refugee camps, a senior Arafat aide told Voice of Palestine Radio.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Arafat also asked Tenet to push Israel to disband the military cordons it has established around many Palestinian cities and villages.

Since the end of the Israeli military campaign in the West Bank in May, Israeli troops have ringed Palestinian cities and refugee camps, staging limited incursions and making arrests in what Israeli security sources have said are attempts to head off suicide bombers.

Security sources Tuesday said Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian after a truck carrying two Israelis was stoned and overturned near Hebron, injuring both Israelis, one of them seriously.

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What Israeli security sources described as pinpoint operations or police actions were carried out in at least five other Palestinian areas -- Nablus, Jenin, Qalqilyah, Rafah and Hizme.

Tenet met with Arafat to discuss the reform of Palestinian security services amid reports that Arafat plans to form and head a supreme security council.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials confirmed that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will go to Washington for a meeting next week with President Bush, the sixth time the two have met in the last year.

That meeting will follow one scheduled this week between Bush and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. A senior aide said Mubarak plans to press Bush to draft a declaration of principles and a timeline for the creation of a Palestinian state as soon as possible. (Full story)

Diplomatic sources said the flurry of activity is expected to lead to a new statement of the U.S. vision for Middle East peace to be elaborated on by either Secretary of State Colin Powell or Bush.

The Arabic daily newspaper Al Quds reported Tuesday that Arafat's new security council would include Palestinian security forces, police, a general intelligence force, preventive security forces, the presidential guard and military intelligence.

Palestinian Gen. Abdel Razak Yehiyeh will be charged with coordinating the security forces, the newspaper said.

Tenet, who met Monday with Sharon, had been expected to urge Arafat to combine Palestinian security operations under an interior minister. Tenet also is scheduled to meet with the head of Palestinian intelligence and security chiefs in Gaza and the West Bank.

Neither Tenet nor Arafat made any statement after their meeting ended Tuesday afternoon.

Security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians is considered the first step for restarting peace talks under the Tenet and Mitchell proposals. (More on the Tenet plan)

The Mitchell plan, named after former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, is a set of procedures for both sides to follow in pursuit of a final settlement of so far intractable issues such as boundaries of a Palestinian state, the right of refugees to return and the status of Jerusalem.

Before peace talks begin, the Palestinians said they want:

  • Israeli troops to pull out of Palestinian-controlled areas.
  • The Israeli military siege on Palestinian towns lifted.
  • Israeli checkpoints between Palestinian towns dismantled.
  • The Palestinian Authority temporarily defused a potentially explosive situation Monday when it refused to follow the order of its high court and said it would keep a militant leader in prison for the immediate future. (Full story)

    Arafat has been under pressure from the Palestinian territories and the international community, including a number of Arab countries, to reform the Palestinian Authority.

    Aides have said Arafat still intends to announce a new, smaller Cabinet made up of fewer than 20 ministers.

    At a meeting Monday night, the Palestinian leadership issued a call for "all Palestinian factions and political parties to join the leadership in managing and running the Palestinian new government."

    Arafat offered Cabinet seats to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, but both groups rejected the proposals.

    Hamas, which has carried out the most devastating attacks against Israelis during the current Intifada, also rejected an offer to join the Cabinet, saying it would not be in the interest of the Palestinian people.

    Arafat aides said he plans to call for new elections for president of the Palestinian Authority and for the Palestine Legislative Council. However, Arafat has said elections cannot go forward as long as Israeli troops maintain a presence around major Palestinian cities.

    Israel Radio reported Tuesday that Mohammed Dahlan, the head of the Palestinian Authority's Preventive Security Service in Gaza, has taken a monthlong leave of absence to consider an Arafat offer to become one of his special advisers.




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