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Sharon Says Arafat Should Have Been Killed in 1982 - 2002-01-31


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said Israel should have killed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat 20 years ago in Lebanon.

In comments published Thursday in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv, Prime Minister Sharon says Israel should have "liquidated" Mr. Arafat while he was under siege in Beirut in 1982.

Mr. Sharon, who was then defense minister, said the Palestinian leader should have been killed during Israel's invasion of Lebanon.

At the time Mr. Arafat was based in Beirut, but was forced to leave for Tunis along with other leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization, PLO.

Since talking office last year, Prime Minister Sharon has called the Palestinian leader a "terrorist" and politically "irrelevant."

In December Israel confined Mr. Arafat to his Ramallah headquarters as part of an Israeli attempt to pressure him to end the Palestinian uprising which erupted 16 months ago.

Although tanks ring the area, Israeli government officials have repeatedly said they do not intend to physically harm Mr. Arafat or topple his Palestinian Authority.

In the newspaper interview, Mr. Sharon has said if the Palestinian leader takes the steps required by Israel to end the current conflict "he will again be a partner in peace negotiations."

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