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Israelis Celebrate Capture of Saddam; Palestinians Express Mixed Feelings - 2003-12-15

Israeli officials on Sunday expressed great joy over the capture of Saddam Hussein, but the response from the Palestinian Authority has been notably muted.

Israel's Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, says the capture of Saddam has proved that what he calls "free countries" are determined to bring to justice "terrorists who cause destruction, killing and anarchy."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon telephoned U.S. President George Bush to congratulate him on Saddam's arrest, saying it marked a "great day for the democratic world" and for the "fight against terror."

In contrast, officials of President Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority said they would not issue a formal response.

Mr. Arafat supported Saddam during the 1991 Gulf War.

Mohammed Horani, a Palestinian legislator and member of Mr. Arafat's Fatah Party, says Palestinians have mixed feelings about Saddam Hussein.

He says that while Saddam is a dictator, Palestinians could not support his capture by what he called "American occupying forces" in Iraq.