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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 12, 2003

U.S., Israel deal would oust Arafat, paper says

This piece reported here will not be confirmed or denied by Sharon or the American Embassy, so it is to be taken with a grain of salt
JERUSALEM - Israel and Washington have reached a secret agreement on conditions for ousting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat after the U.S. topples Saddam Hussein in Iraq, a leading Israeli newspaper reported Sunday.


Reached by Knight Ridder Newspapers, spokesmen for both Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv declined to either confirm or deny the report carried in the tabloid Yediot Aharanot under the headline, "After Saddam: It is Going to be Arafat's Turn."

But Palestinian Authority regime change has been a long-standing goal of Sharon, whose Likud Party recently swept national elections and who has rejected Arafat as a suitable negotiating partner for plans for an independent state of Palestine.

Sharon has dispatched trusted aide Dov Weisglass to Washington several times in recent months and, according to the newspaper report, the U.S. and Israel now have a secret agreement in writing.

Weisglass told state-run Israel Radio over the weekend that, rather than exile the Palestinian leader, or kill him, Israel wants the Palestinians to create the position of a powerful prime minister, which would leave Arafat in a more ceremonial role as president.

If Arafat refuses the transfer of power, "we'll kick him out of here with American authorization," according to an unidentified "high-ranking Israeli official" quoted in the article.

note: the report carried in the tabloid Yediot Aharanot under the headline, "After Saddam: It is Going to be Arafat's Turn."