Sharon to Bush: No pullback until military aims are achieved

TEL AVIV – Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his spokespersons answered U.S. President Bush and British PM Anthony Blair’s calls to pull back without delay from the Palestinian cities reconquered during the last week by saying, “Only after our military goal, to eliminate the Palestinian terror, is achieved.”

His radical Chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz told the press that this would take not less than four weeks. The Israeli government, according to Mofaz, is satisfied with Bush’s accusations against the “irrelevant terror chieftain” Yasir Arafat, claiming that he and no other was responsible for the horrible situation the Palestinian people are finding themselves in now. According to this right-wing logic, Arafat had allegedly betrayed his people.

Arafat, who is confined within two rooms of his office in Ramallah, is the target of this right-wing government’s war. Tanks and Israeli Elite Troops are stationed in front of his windows and the other side of the doors of his room, with electricity and phone connections interrupted by the hour. He has not yet officially responded to the Bush attack.

Arafat did tell U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni that he was not able to do anything as long as the Israeli aggression is not be called off. The Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, whose home was searched and ransacked by Israeli aggressors, stated at a press conference that if Colin Powell would not meet Arafat during his visit, no Palestinian would meet the U.S. Secretary of State.

Many expressed that if Sharon would not end his aggressive military offensive and pull out of the Palestinian cities, neither the Palestinian people nor the Arab world would take the Bush speech as a serious approach towards ceasefire or peace.

Another PNA Minister, Hassan Asfour, added that Bush’s attempt to put the blame for the inhuman Israeli war of aggression upon the shoulders of President Arafat could be seen as an open call to Sharon’s henchmen to assassinate, or at least expel, Arafat from his homeland.

Palestinian Minister and chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected the open call to dispose of Arafat and find other, allegedly “more responsible” leaders to negotiate with.

“The Palestinian people are fully backing their elected President Yasir Arafat; it is not for Bush, Blair or Sharon to pick and chose who represents our people,” Erekat said.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org