Israeli report suggests ending Arafat siege

05 December 2003
A report by written by senior Israeli officials recommends ending the siege on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound, reported the daily Maariv on 5 December. The report, which was delivered to Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister, Silvan Shalom, in early December, says that Arafat should be allowed to leave his compound and travel freely around the Occupied Territories as part of a 'confidence building' campaign by Israel. 'If Arafat should die while still imprisoned in the Muqataa (headquarters), Israel will bear the main responsibility for his death,' the report said. 'Therefore, it is preferable that Israel allow Arafat to move freely in the West Bank and Gaza.'

Arafat has been confined to his compound in Ramallah since September 2002, when Israel made the decision to limit his movements. In September 2003, Sharon's cabinet voted to expel Arafat from the Occupied Territories. After the decision, the Israeli military confirmed that it had been training for an operation that would seize Arafat from his compound in the West Bank and fly him by helicopter to another country, possibly in North Africa (MEED 12:9:03).

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