- 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,
- 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
- "As a matter of fact, the contrary is proven,"
- 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."