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March 02, 2003

Arafat: Israel inciting Iraqi war

And you know that anything Arafat says has got to be the truth, right?
GAZA, March 1 (UPI) -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat accused Israel of inciting the United States to go to war against Iraq, in a speech Saturday transmitted from his Gaza headquarters to the Arab Summit in the Egyptian report of Sharm El-Sheikh.

The Israeli government "is the first inciter for the war against Iraq," Arafat said.

"This Israeli government is putting now its final touches of the scenarios of its role and the goals it wants to achieve out of the war against Iraq," Arafat said. "Israel considers the war against Iraq as its war against the whole Arab world," as well as a war against the Palestinian people.

The weekend's summit was the second Arafat was unable to attend because of Israel's decision in December 2001 to confine the Palestinian Authority chairman to his Ramallah headquarters, known as Al Muqata'a.

Palestinian Authority Planning Minister Nabil Shaath said Arafat didn't attend the summit because there are no guarantees he will be able to return to the Palestinian territories.

However, while the previous Arab Summit focused on Arafat's plight as his compound remained besieged by Israeli forces, the impending crisis in Iraq has cornered the summit's debate. Arafat has fallen out of favor and the the United States -- along with Israel -- has been calling for serious reform in the Palestinian Authority, including a change in leadership.

In his speech Arafat accused Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government of looking to use the war on Iraq to further its gains against the Palestinians.[more]