Liquidation of Arafat Again Urged by Sharon
Ariel Sharon, the Israeli government’s most militant hawk, called Monday for the elimination of Yasser Arafat and other leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the second time this year that Sharon has implied that Arafat should be assassinated.
Sharon’s inflammatory comments came amid more and more active efforts by him to limit the government’s peace initiative and to press for harsher measures to put down the intifada , the Arab uprising in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. He made the remarks to reporters while on a tour of the Golan Heights near the border with Syria.
“We have to stop using slogans, dishing out promises and handing out tranquilizers,” Sharon said. “The time has come to deal with terror and violence.
“I think we are in a war--a different kind of war, but a war. The most important thing is to restore law and order, to bring an end to terror and violence, to what is called here the intifada , and to eliminate the heads of the terrorist organizations, and first of all Arafat.
“As long as that will not be done, I don’t see any real possibility to arrive at peace or even to start a peace process.”
Sharon made these remarks in English while earlier, speaking in Hebrew, he used the word for liquidation and called Arafat an “arch-murderer.”
In January, Sharon made a similar call for Arafat’s head, saying, “There will be no peace as long as Arafat lives.”
In Washington, the Associated Press quoted State Department spokesman Richard Boucher as saying that he had not seen the complete text of Sharon’s remarks but added: “I point out that U.S. policy is to support a de-escalation of violence in the Middle East, not an escalation of violence. If true, as reported, these remarks would obviously not help in that process.”
Sharon, 61, is minister of trade and industry in the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and is a senior member of Shamir’s rightist Likud Party.
On July 5, Sharon spearheaded a successful drive within Likud to toughen conditions for elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The proposed elections are the centerpiece of Shamir’s peace plan.
After the Likud meeting, Shamir sought to minimize the importance of the new limits, saying that the original plan, which called for Palestinian elections to choose a peace delegation, remained intact. Shamir’s disavowal of the Likud action has forestalled a breakup of the government. Labor officials had threatened to pull out if conditions were attached to the plan.
The Likud conditions included a ban on participation by the 140,000 Arabs in East Jerusalem, a demand that the intifada must end before talks leading to an election could begin and a pledge that no country but Israel would rule over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Sharon was minister of defense when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 in order to drive the PLO from Beirut and to install a friendly Lebanese government. He left the post in disgrace the next year when an official Israeli inquiry found him indirectly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians at the hands of Israel’s Lebanese Christian allies.
After last year’s general election, Sharon openly proposed himself for the post of defense minister, promising to end the intifada in a week. But under a coalition agreement, Labor’s Yitzhak Rabin retained the Defense Ministry. Since then, Sharon has frequently criticized Rabin for failing to crush the intifada.