Title: Message
Published on Friday, December 7, 2001 by the Associated Press
Angry Arafat Accuses US Of Pro-Israel Bias
JERUSALEM (AP) - An angry Yasser Arafat accused the United States of Pro-Israel bias Friday during an interview broadcast on Israeli television.

The United States has been pressuring Arafat to rein in the Islamic militant group Hamas that took responsibility for suicide bombings that killed 25 people in Israel over the weekend.

When asked about recent American pressure on him to arrest militants, the Palestinian leader became irritated.

``Dear God, who cares about the Americans,'' Arafat said, striking the air with his hand at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

``The Americans are on your side and they give you everything,'' Arafat told Channel One television. ``Who gave you the airplanes? The Americans. Who gave you the tanks? The Americans.''

Arafat spoke after an Israeli F-16 jet attacked a Palestinian police compound in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the firing of mortars at area Jewish settlements.

The Americans have abstained from criticizing Israel for military strikes against the Palestinians that came in response to the bombings, including several earlier in the week that killed two Palestinians and injured about 100.

When the interviewer attempted to ask Arafat about recent American efforts to bring about a cease-fire to end 14 months of Israeli-Palestinian clashes, Arafat interrupted, saying: ``Don't talk to me about the Americans.''

As Israel's closest ally, the United States gives Israel about $2.7 billion in military and economic aide each year, part of which is used to buy fighter planes. The United States also grants the Palestinians aid annually.

Since the bombings in Israel over the weekend, Arafat's forces say they have arrested about 180 militants.

The United States has remained skeptical of the Palestinian crackdown, and White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday that Palestinian jails are ``built with bars in front with revolving doors at the back.''

Israel has repeatedly used the term ``revolving door'' in accusing Arafat of arresting militants only for show, and releasing them later.

U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni this week gave Arafat a list of 33 Palestinians, the ones most wanted by Israel for suspected involvement in attacks, Arafat said. Of those, the Palestinian forces have arrested 17, Arafat said.

Arafat lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for equating him with wanted terror suspect Osama bin Laden. Several Israeli ministers have also said recently they support an Israeli attempt to topple Arafat and destroy the Palestinian Authority.

``Your leaders don't stop the incitement against us,'' Arafat said. ``You say that I am bin Laden and the Palestinian Authority is the Taliban. Am I bin Laden?''

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, reacting to Arafat's interview, said he had pressed Arafat in a phone conversation this week to arrest militants. He said he didn't support any Israeli action to bring Arafat down.

``I'm convinced that if Arafat will leave, the situation will be worse,'' Peres told the television.

Arafat insisted that he was trying to implement a cease-fire.

Copyright © 2001 Associated Press

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