China Warns of Disaster
If Arafat Harmed

By Abdullah Iqbal (Dubai)

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan warned Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres in a phone conversation on Sunday of disastrous consequences for the Middle East if Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was harmed, Xinhua said.
The news agency quoted Tang as urging Israel to withdraw immediately from Palestinian territory.
The two sides should take concrete measures to end the conflict and work toward the resumption of peace talks, Xinhua quoted Tang as saying.
Peres had expressed Israel's willingness to make commitments to the international community that no danger would be brought to Arafat's personal safety and that the organization of the Palestinian Authority would not be destroyed, it said.
Israel launched an onslaught against Arafat early on Friday after a devastating suicide bombing at the start of the Jewish Passover holiday last week, bringing an 18-month-old conflict to the doorstep of the Palestinian leader.
The battle of wills between the two sides has only grown in intensity and violence in the last month despite international calls for a cease-fire.
Israeli forces raided a Palestinian-ruled village near the West Bank town of Tulkarm overnight and the army said troops shot dead two armed Palestinians during an exchange of fire.
On Saturday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a busy Tel Aviv restaurant, wounding 32 people in an attack claimed by a group linked to Arafat's Fatah organization.
At least 1,125 Palestinians and 384 Israelis have been killed since the Palestinian revolt against Israeli occupation began in September 2000 after peace talks broke down.
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