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Sinai Suspects Likely to Face Military Trial

By Al Hayat

Suspects in the Sinai attacks are likely to face a military trial to ensure a speedy process, "well-informed Egyptian sources" told al Hayat newspaper. Sources also said the mastermind of the attacks regularly visited Gaza to see his family, which could mean the attacks were planned over there.

Arafat to be Flown to Paris

By, Ha'aretz & VOA News

Latest reports on Yasir Arafat's condition indicate he may be suffering from a blood disorder that is potentially fatal. Israel has given PA officials a green light for any travel connected to Arafat's needs.

Two helicopters from Jordan are heading to Ramallah. They will take Arafat and his entourage to Jordan where a plane dispatched by the French government will be waiting to fly him to a Paris hospital. Accompanying him will be his wife Suha, Abu Mazen, Saeb Erekat, Muhmad Dahlan, Muhmad Rashid, and a number of security and media personnel. PA officials report Arafat requested that Abu Ala remain in Ramallah to tend to the day-to-day affairs of running the PA.

Thursday evening, a spokesman for French President Jacques Chirac called the airlift "imminent." Arafat aides in the West Bank said he would depart the region early Friday morning. The decision for French treatment was first reported a short while after Mr. Arafat's wife, Suha, who lives in Paris, arrived in the West Bank to join her ailing husband.

Aides to the Palestinian leader say he was in serious but stable condition, suffering from influenza and a gallstone. The Associated Press said he was unable to hold down food. However, Arafat aides later released a photo showing the smiling Palestinian leader sitting in a wheelchair surrounded by supporters in his Ramallah compound. The photo appeared designed, above all, to reassure the Palestinian people that Arafat might be ill, but that he is still hanging on.

Palestinian officials are quick to say that Arafat is in stable condition and they seem eager to avoid discussion of the looming question of who will take over the Palestinian leadership, should the ageing leader become incapacitated or die. Palestinian legislator Hannan Ashrawi said that attitude, displayed by those around Arafat, was understandable. "They want to make sure that things proceed smoothly, that institutions function and that despite the fact that the president is indisposed that there is a political system functioning and everybody's hopeful that he will recover," she said.

Over the years, Arafat has made sure he remained the one central figure in Palestinian politics and he never groomed a successor. Despite the fact that Israeli forces have kept him under virtual house arrest in his Muqata compound in Ramallah for more than two years, and despite efforts by Israel and the United States to sideline him, Arafat remained the undisputed leader of the Palestinians. But, he is 75 years old and has been reported in failing health for some time. So the question of succession is an obvious one.

Several names have been raised as likely candidates. Among the obvious choices would be long-time Arafat associates, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and his predecessor Mamoud Abbas. Other possible Arafat successors being mentioned include Rawhi Fattouh, the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, former Palestinian Security Chief Mohammed Dahlan and imprisoned Palestinian activist Marwan Barghouti. There has also been talk that a committee might be formed to fill the role-played by Arafat.

The State Department said Thursday it hopes that Arafat "gets the medical care he needs to return to health." The Bush administration ceased political dialogue with Arafat more than two years ago. But the State Department said U.S. diplomats have been in touch with both Palestinian and Israeli officials on the Palestinian leader's latest health crisis, including plans for his possible treatment abroad and return to Ramallah.

At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher noted that Israeli officials have committed to facilitating access to proper medical care for Arafat, and that arrangements for his treatment and travel were being "worked out in a constructive manner" between Israel and the Palestinians. He said it is not a political issue for the United States, but rather a matter of seeing that an "ill person gets the medical care he needs to return to health."

Under questioning, the spokesman said it was not appropriate to speculate on what might happen in the event of the death of the 75-year-old Mr. Arafat. Yet, he downplayed the notion it might touch off violent upheaval among Palestinians. "If you do follow what is going on out there, and we have been, the Palestinians seem to be working out their own arrangements for governance and responsible leadership," he said. "They have a prime minister, they have a government. So, we're following those discussions among them at this point. But that's where it should be. It's going to be something they're going to have to work on, whether it's during a period of illness, or something else."

Israeli Knesset member Benny Elon has asked the Defense Minister to give advance notice that Arafat will not be buried in Jerusalem. Uri Ariel of the National Union made the warning that "Many thousands of right-wing demonstrators will bodily prevent Arafat from being buried in Jerusalem."

MK Benny Elon, also of the National Union, has turned to Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz, asking him to declare that Israel will not allow terrorist leader Arafat to be buried in Jerusalem. Other MKs have made a similar request to Prime Minister Sharon and Mofaz. "I have no problem with not burying him at all," Elon said this morning, "but rather scattering his ashes like they did with Adolph Eichmann. But if he is to be buried at all, then at least it shouldn't be in Jerusalem." He said that such an announcement must be made before Arafat's death.

"The police must be prepared for a funeral procession in which the Arabs will try to burst into Jerusalem," Elon said. "It could be an explosive situation... We must not allow the scenes from Feisal Husseini's wild and nationalistic funeral, which was a blow to Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem, to repeat themselves." When Husseini was buried in June 2001, thousands of Arabs waving PA flags essentially took over parts of northern Jerusalem during the funeral procession. Prime Minister Sharon refused to allow Arafat to enter Jerusalem for the funeral.

Hebron resident and head of the National Jewish Front Baruch Marzel announced Thursday that if Arafat dies, PA officials would undoubtedly make an effort to have him interred on the Temple Mount." I call on the Jewish masses to block his body in such an occurrence to prevent the murderer or murderers who is dripping with the blood of thousands of Jews from being buried on the Temple Mount."

Arafat is directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Israeli citizens, the deaths of untold numbers of Arabs and the killing of more than 100 U.S. citizens. Among the Americans were two diplomats, whose cruel murders in Sudan Arafat ordered by radio from his Beirut headquarters. In 1995, Ariel Sharon said, "I don't know anyone other than Arafat who has as much civilian Jewish blood on his hands since the time of the Nazis."

Christopher Boltanski and Jihan El-Tahri revealed in their 1997 biography, "Les sept vies de Yasser Arafat " that Arafat was born in August 1929, in Cairo - and not in Jerusalem or Gaza, as Arab sources often claim.

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