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Arafat Release Not Enough, Says Egypt - 2002-05-02

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said it will take more than Mr. Arafat's release to quell mounting Arab discontent with what he calls Israel's occupation of Palestinian areas.

"There will be anger as long as Israel will continue its occupation of the Palestinian territories, what we have seen is some sort of revolving door policy, the withdrawal from one place and there is an incursion into another place," he said.

The Cairo-based Arab League said the Israeli release of Mr. Arafat is significant. But a spokesman, Hisham Youssef, was dismayed by the decision of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to drop the Jenin fact-finding mission. He said it is up to the international community to insist on an investigation of the Jenin situation.

"The international community has to act in order for it to verify the situation on the ground, and the extent of the atrocities that were committed in the occupied territories and particularly in the Jenin camp," Mr. Youssef said.

Senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said aborting the U.N. fact-finding commission is "a sad day for justice." But he said Arabs will continue to push for an investigation into alleged Israeli wrongdoing.

"Don't you ever think that the Jenin crime will go away, it will remain haunting (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon, the way Sabra and Shatillah did, and remain haunting the Israeli government," Mr. Shaath said.

A professor of political science at several Egyptian universities, Mohamed Kamal, said cancellation of the U.N. fact-finding mission to Jenin will reinforce Arab views that the United Nations is under U.S. influence and is biased toward Israel.

"It will also revive the talk about the double standards of the U.N. and U.S., meaning when Israel disregards or disrespects a U.N. resolution, nothing happens to it, but when an Arab country like Iraq disregards it, it gets punished," Mr. Kamal said.

The Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Maher, said Israel's action blocking the Jenin investigation is a sign that Israel has something to hide about its attacks against the Palestinian refugee camp.