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Arafat Condemns All Terror Attacks Against Israeli Civilians - 2002-09-09


Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has condemned all terror attacks against Israeli civilians and said he is ready to negotiate peace.

In the first meeting of the Palestinian parliament in six months, Mr. Arafat appealed Monday for an end to the fighting with Israel.

He said the world expects a clear message from the Palestinian people that they are ready to negotiate peace with Israel and carry out internal political reforms.

Mr. Arafat condemned all acts of terror against Israeli civilians, saying attacks on Israeli civilians serve Israel's interest by drawing attention away from the suffering of the Palestinian people.

In an advance copy of the speech provided by his staff, Mr. Arafat specifically called for the recognition of Israel and for a ban on suicide bombings. These lines were not delivered in the actual address to the parliament.

Mr. Arafat also said he is ready to give up his executive powers, if asked to do so. But his remark was delivered in a joking fashion and suggested he intended to mock his critics, rather to be taken seriously.

His comments drew laughter from the Palestinian Legislative Council, which met at his offices in the West Bank City of Ramallah.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the make-up of a new Cabinet and to discuss holding of parliamentary elections next January.

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