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Eu backs arafat { January 29 2002 }

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EU publicly backs Arafat in fresh challenge to Bush

By Stephen Castle in Brussels

29 January 2002

Europe and the US were at odds over the Middle East last night after the EU
issued a statement in defence of Yasser Arafat, and said it may demand
compensation from Israel for EU-funded property it has destroyed in Palestine.

In stark contrast to recent US criticism of Mr Arafat, the EU said "
... Israel needs the Palestinian Authority and its elected president,
Yasser Arafat, as a partner to negotiate with". Some EU foreign
ministers were more blunt, Sweden's Anna Lindh, being the most

As she arrived for yesterday's meeting of EU foreign ministers, she
said: "I think it is very dangerous if the United States is supportive of
the Israeli government and of the confrontation [Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel] Sharon has tried to use instead of supporting peace

Diplomats said the EU declaration was balanced and pointed out
that it called on Mr Arafat to "do everything to put an end to
terrorism and the armed intifada; dismantle all the terrorist networks
and arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of terrorist acts".

The EU is to write to the Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres,
keeping open the option of seeking compensation from the Israeli
government for the EU-backed projects which have been destroyed.
Last week the European Commission and member states released
a document which blamed Israel for the destruction of more than
17m (10.3m) worth of property paid for by the EU. It listed a
catalogue of destruction wreaked by the Israeli army at sites
including a school construction, the airport, a port, broadcasting
studios and an irrigation scheme.

Josep Pique, the Foreign Minister of Spain which holds the EU
presidency, said: "We reserve the right to call for compensation. We
are going to take whatever decision we believe to be appropriate."

The EU's declaration said it is "seriously concerned at the
destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and other facilities which
help Palestinians in their economic, social and humanitarian
development and which are financed by the EU and other donors."

Also from the Middle East section.

Israeli marksmen comb holy city for female bombers
Israel attacked by first female suicide bomber
Fear grips heart of downtown Jerusalem
Two dead in Jerusalem blast
Tension mounts as US turns its back on Arafat

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