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Bush Speech, clashes in Gaza

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    24 June 2002. BUSH CALLS FOR REMOVAL OF YASSER ARAFAT WASHINGTON -- President Bush urged the Palestinians Monday to replace Yasser Arafat with leaders not
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 24, 2002
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      24 June 2002.


      WASHINGTON -- President Bush urged the Palestinians Monday to replace
      Yasser Arafat with leaders "not compromised by terror" and to adopt
      democratic reforms that could produce an independent state within three

      "Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership so that a
      Palestinian state can be born," Bush said at the White House.

      In his long-anticipated speech, Bush said "reform must be more than
      cosmetic changes or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo" if the
      Palestinians are to fulfill their aspirations for a state alongside

      Elections should be held by the end of the year for a legislature with
      normal authority and there also must be a constitution, Bush said as he
      set stiff conditions for a Palestinians state.

      "When the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new
      security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America
      will support the creation of a Palestinian state, whose borders and
      certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as
      part of a final settlement in the Middle East," Bush said.

      Senior administration officials said they envision the Palestinians
      being able to reach provisional statehood within 18 months and full
      permanent statehood in as soon as three years.

      "With a determined effort, this state could rise rapidly - as it comes
      to terms with its neighbors on practical issues such as security," Bush

      Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine,
      he said. "A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve
      the security that Israel longs for."

      Touching delicately on the thorniest issues, the president said
      Jerusalem's future and the plight of refugees must be addressed. But he
      offered no prescription.

      Addressing the Palestinian people, Bush said he understood how they
      could feel like pawns in the Middle East conflict. "You deserve
      democracy and the rule of law," he said. "You deserve a life for your
      children and an end to occupation."

      The president made his remarks in an afternoon speech in the Rose
      Garden, where he had announced in April that his administration would
      try to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

      Bush also demanded that Israel withdraw to positions it held on the West
      Bank two years ago and to stop building homes for Jews on the West Bank
      and in Gaza. Ultimately, he said, Israel should agree to pull all the
      way back to the lines it held before the 1967 Mideast war.

      Terms of a provisional state and its international functions were left
      for negotiations between a reformed Palestinian leadership and Israel.

      Bush said the United States, European Union, World Bank and
      International Monetary Fund stand ready to help oversee reforms in
      Palestinian finances.

      Israeli Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin, a close ally of Prime
      Minister Ariel Sharon, interpreted Bush's formula as calling for the
      Palestinians to make the first moves. Rejecting a provisional state,
      Rivlin said Bush's proposal represented a "vision of bringing the
      Palestinian people to democracy and reform, and then to negotiate."

      A senior Palestinian official said only Palestinians can choose their
      leadership - and already have in Arafat.

      "President Bush must respect the choice of the Palestinian people," said
      Saeb Erekat, an Arafat aide.

      "Palestinian leaders don't come from parachutes from Washington or from
      anywhere else. Palestinian leaders are elected directly by the
      Palestinian people. President Yasser Arafat was directly elected in a
      free and fair election," Erekat told CNN.

      "The world and President Bush must respect the democratic choice of the
      Palestinian people."

      Reuters (with additional material by ArabNews). 24 June 2002.

      UNITED NATIONS, RAMALLAH and MOSCOW -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan on
      Monday said the question of Palestinian leadership was up to the
      Palestinian people.

      "The issue of who should lead the Palestinian people is one that only
      the Palestinian people themselves can decide," U.N. chief spokesman Fred
      Eckhard said.

      Palestinian President Yasser Arafat "remains their leader and it will be
      up to them to decide through the fresh elections already announced who
      will lead them in the future," Eckhard said.

      Annan noted the Palestinian people had freely elected Arafat as their
      leader in 1996 elections "that were widely welcomed by the international
      community," according to Eckhard.

      In a statement issued earlier in the day, Eckhard had said Annan was
      "very disturbed" that Israel had moved its army back into West Bank
      cities, saying such actions "significantly increase tensions in a
      volatile situation."

      James Zogby, president of the American Arab Institute, called Bush's
      speech "an absolute disaster."

      "It pretended to be a compassionate speech, then canceled out compassion
      with neo-conservative ideology, putting impossible obstacles in the way
      of Palestinians realizing even the minimal goal of a provisional state,"
      he told Reuters.

      The speech "has set American diplomacy back decades ... I was frankly
      astounded that the Pentagon actually won the day and the State
      Department lost so badly in this," he added.

      Henry Seigman of the Council on Foreign Relations, was also critical,
      saying "the hard-liners did prevail" and the new framework will be
      "entirely ineffective" in ending violence.

      Russian President Vladimir Putin Told a press conference in the Kremlin:
      "It would be dangerous and a mistake to remove (Arafat) from the
      political arena because in our view that would lead to the
      radicalization of Palestinian society."

      Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told CNN that Bush's call for a
      new Palestinian leadership is unacceptable.

      "I cannot find President Bush's statement acceptable," said Erekat
      minutes after Bush made the call in a highly anticipated speech on his
      vision for Middle East peace.

      24 June 2002.
      KILLED 6

      GAZA -- Clashes erupted between Palestinian police and Hamas supporters
      on Monday after the Palestinian Authority placed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin,
      the Islamic militant group's founder, under house arrest in Gaza City.

      Witnesses said Palestinian police opened fire as the Hamas supporters
      marched towards Yassin's house after police announced Yassin was under
      house arrest. Police said the Hamas protesters had opened fire.

      Two demonstrators were reported wounded. Gaza is considered the
      stronghold of Hamas.

      In other developments, Israeli forces killed six Palestinians in a
      helicopter missile strike on a car carrying Islamic militants in the
      Gaza Strip on Monday and surrounded Yasser Arafat in his headquarters in
      the West

      Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Monday Israel was
      preparing "massive activities" against the Islamic militant movement
      Hamas in the Gaza Strip after killing four of the group's members with a
      helicopter missile.

      Israeli security sources said the Gaza attack was part of Israel's
      policy -- condemned internationally -- of killing militants it blames
      for suicide bombings and shooting ambushes during a 21-month-old
      uprising against Israeli occupation.

      "We are preparing massive activities against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and
      one could see the start of that this morning," Sharon told a
      parliamentary committee. But he did not elaborate on military plans.
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