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November 28, 2002


A top Palestinian offical says that the Intifada "a mistake."
JERUSALEM - Yasser Arafat's top deputy said the violent uprising against Israel has been a disaster for the Palestinians and must be stopped.

"What happened in these two years, as we see it now, is a complete destruction of everything we built," Abu Mazen told members of Arafat's Fatah faction.

The comments from Mazen - a possible successor to Arafat - are the strongest denunciation by a senior Palestinian official of the uprising that has resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 Palestinians and Israelis since it began in September 2000.

But the release of his remarks - which were made Oct. 24 but leaked Tuesday - raised suspicions that they were designed to undermine Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who faces a key political challenge today.

Mazen, also known as Mahmoud Abbas, is No. 2 in the Palestine Liberation Organization and has been frequently mentioned as a leading candidate to succeed the 73-year-old Arafat.

In his speech, to a meeting of Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip, Mazen said Palestinian activists had blundered their way into violence.