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Israel Refuses to Guarantee Arafat Safe Passage from Tripoli

Israel today again condemned the United Nations’ decision to provide safe conduct for PLO leader Yasir Arafat and his men to leave the embattled city of Tripoli under a UN flag and said it would not give a guarantee of safe passage to the terrorists.

Asked if Israel would prevent Arafat and his 4,000 men from leaving, Cabinet Secretary Dan Meridor told reporters, “Israel is not going to answer that question.” Speaking after a Cabinet meeting, Meridor said Greece had asked for security guarantees for its ships evacuating the Palestinians, but Israel would not provide such guarantees.

The Israeli government last week asked UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to cancel any arrangement that may have been made to give Arafat and his men safe conduct from Tripoli under the UN flag. Premier Yitzhak Shamir said “it is inconceivable” that the UN “should provide the terrorists with any assistance or facilities whatsoever” in light of the “horrendous crime perpetrated by Arafat’s terrorists” in Jerusalem last Tuesday.

Four people were killed and 46 were injured in a bus bomb blast. Claims of responsibility for the tragedy emanated from both the faction supporting Arafat and PLO dissidents who have been battling Arafat loyalists in northern Lebanon. Shortly after the disaster, Shamir declared: “Our hands will reach the murderers and we shall strike them until this wickedness disappears from the face of the earth.”

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