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US source: Israel opposed to "high-level" Arafat meeting

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  • Josh Pollack
    Ha aretz November 05, 2001 Israel trying to foil Bush-Arafat meeting, U.S. claims By Aluf Benn http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=90801
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 4, 2001
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      Ha'aretz
      November 05, 2001
      Israel trying to foil Bush-Arafat meeting, U.S. claims
      By Aluf Benn

      http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=90801

      The U.S. administration has been critical of Israeli policy in recent days
      after the meeting between Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian
      Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat at a weekend conference in Spain.

      A senior American official complained to an Israeli official in recent days
      that "Peres meets with Arafat, but every time the administration wants to
      hold a high-level meeting with the Palestinian leader, Israel complains
      about it."

      Meanwhile, Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Sha'ath told reporters in
      Damascus that Arafat might meet U.S. President George W. Bush on the
      sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month. "It is possible," he
      said, when asked about prospects for such a meeting. "It has been discussed
      but I don't have anything fixed."

      Sha'ath will be visiting Washington next week for meetings with senior
      officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, to discuss the
      possibility of such a meeting. He was in Damascus for a regular meeting of
      Arab foreign ministers to discuss the U.S.-led war on terrorism and reviving
      the Middle East peace process.

      The administration is now deliberating on the issue of a Bush-Arafat meeting
      in New York. Israel has expressed reservations about such a meeting,
      preferring that Washington pressure Arafat to fight terror. The
      administration routinely calls for the PA to crack down on terrorists.

      Bush has not met Arafat since his inauguration as U.S. president in January.
      But Bush, seeking Arab support for Washington's global coalition against
      terrorism, has recently voiced support for a Palestinian state and Arab
      officials have said Washington must do more to secure an end to the
      bloodshed and a resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.

      "Such a meeting will serve the issue and we hope it will take place," Saudi
      Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal said in Damascus. Sha'ath also said
      Arafat might still visit Damascus for talks with President Bashar Assad. A
      visit in September, which would have been the first by Arafat in years, was
      canceled at the last minute in controversial circumstances. Noting that the
      "misunderstanding" had been resolved, Sha'ath said he hoped a new date would
      be announced soon.

      Peres heads for Brussels today for European-Mediterranean cooperation
      conference, which Arafat will also be attending. As in Majorca at the
      weekend, Peres has permission from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to hold
      "corridor" meetings with Arafat and, if invited to the same lunch or dinner,
      to dine with the Palestinian leader. Peres has said that there is no point
      in holding a working session with Arafat unless it is fully prepared in
      advance.

      The Brussels conference will bring foreign minsters from seven Arab
      countries - Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria -
      together with foreign ministers from European Union countries.

      Peres will meet with his Belgian counterpart to discuss the chill in
      relations between Brussels and Jerusalem after Belgian prosecutors decided
      to proceed with the case against Sharon for his involvement in the Sabra and
      Chatila massacres in Beirut in 1982.

      After Brussels, Peres goes to France and Sweden, where he will meet with
      Palestinian Parliament Speaker Abu Ala, at a meeting of the Socialist
      International.



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