Egypt Blasts US Position On
Israeli Assault On Ramallah


CAIRO (AFP) - Egypt hit out at the United States' refusal to condemn Israel's assault on Yasser Arafat's West Bank compound that has left the Palestinian leader trapped, surrounded by Israeli soldiers.
"We were hoping that the United States would adopt a strong position since the start of this Israeli attack against the Palestinians but we have not seen any such position," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said in a television interview.
"Admittedly, the United States cannot or does not want to put pressure on Israel, but Israel needs someone to save it from itself," Maher said.
"I cannot imagine that the United States can stay silent in the face of these Israeli actions without saying: enough, enough, enough."
Washington has refused to condemn Israel's storming of Ramallah on Friday, after a suicide bombing on Wednesday left some 20 Israelis and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon branded Arafat an enemy.
US President George W. Bush said Saturday Israel had the right to defend itself and that Arafat must make much greater efforts to prevent attacks by Palestinian militants.
Bush and his Secretary of State Colin Powell have only said that Israel has assured them it would not harm Arafat.
Speaking to a meeting of a French-Egyptian business organisation later on Sunday, Maher said Israel's actions fell between "total criminality" and "inexplicable folly" and would not bring security to the Jewish state.
"As a matter of fact, the contrary is proven," he said.
Maher also lashed out at the international community.
"The world's reaction is very weak," he said, adding that Egypt had "heard words justifying to a certain degree the clear aggression of the Israeli government."
Maher also called for Saturday's UN Security Council resolution calling on Israel to end its occupation of Ramallah to be implemented, and repeated calls for international protection for Arafat.
Maher called for "implementation of the resolution, with international protection provided for President Arafat where he is located" at a press conference following a meeting with Palestinian minister Nabil Shaath.
"International observers (should be) present to witness Israel's breaking of all agreements and laws," Maher said in remarks carried by the state-run MENA news agency.
In his earlier television interview, Maher had said that the UN resolution did not go far enough.
Maher also said he had had a shouting match with Israel's ambassador to Cairo on Friday when he protested the Israeli actions in Ramallah and "listed all the criminal acts committed by Israel."

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