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Syria's Assad Congratulates Bush

By Reuters

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday congratulated President George W. Bush for winning a second term in office and called for dialogue to ease tensions between the two countries. "I have a big hope that serious dialogue, the commitment in international law and the United Nations charter would be our way to strengthen the relation between our countries," Assad said in a telegram to Bush congratulating him. He also hoped the two countries would work together "for just and comprehensive peace in the region", according to the official news agency SANA.

French Sources: Arafat is Brain Dead

By, & Ha'aretz

French news services continue to report that the 75-year-old Yasir Arafat is "brain dead," that he will not wake up from his present coma, and that the only thing separating him from death is the machine to which he is attached. All earlier reports of Arafat's death pulled to a full stop when doctors at the French hospital in which he is hospitalized said clearly this evening, "Arafat has not died."

The Prime Minister of Luxembourg, who had stated that Arafat was dead, was forced to issue an embarrassing retraction. His spokesman said that the Prime Minister's announcement was based on a "regretful misunderstanding." Some sources in Percy Military Hospital just outside Paris reported that the dying arch-terrorist is suffering from a growth or poisoning, and that he will not wake up from his present coma. Palestinian Authority leaders denied reports that their murderous leader was dead, and continue to sit in emergency session in Ramallah, awaiting developments.

Late Thursday afternoon, Christian Estripeau, the communications chief of France's military health services offered just a few terse words to reporters camped outside the Clamart hospital. Estripeau said Arafat wasn't dead, but his situation had become more complicated. But French and Palestinian sources quoted by a variety of news services said the Palestinian leader was clinically dead, and had to be kept alive with machines.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, asked about Arafat's impending death, said, "There are conflicting reports, and we will not react to this matter until there is an official announcement." Sharon said earlier this week that Arafat would not be buried in Jerusalem. "As long as I'm here - and I'm not planning to leave any time soon - Arafat will not be buried in Jerusalem," Sharon told the Cabinet meeting this past Sunday.

Channel 2 TV quoting "high-level officials" reported earlier that Arafat would be interred inside pre-1967 Green Line Israel. Should the PA issue an official death notice; a request to bury Arafat on Jerusalem's Temple Mount is likely to follow.

Israel Defense Forces remained on high alert in preparation for widespread disturbances when Arafat dies. Tension is especially high in anticipation of Friday, the last Friday in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, when huge crowds of worshipers usually swarm the Temple Mount. Some 140,000 people participated in last week's Ramadan prayers on the Temple Mount.

Throughout the day Thursday a series of conflicting reports from Israel, Brussels and the Percy military hospital in the Paris suburb of Clamart about Arafat's condition help to brew confusion over whether he was dead, clinically dead or alive but seriously ill.

A source quoted on French television said that Arafat is breathing with the help of a respirator and is not responding to medical treatment that is being administered. The source, a doctor in the hospital, claims that Arafat has no chance of coming out of the coma. The doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, said that in the past three years Arafat's health has been neglected, which led to its deterioration.

Only Arafat's wife Suha, who lives in Paris, and a handful of aides were informed that Arafat had been moved to intensive care late on Wednesday, and no visitors were allowed to see him at the military hospital outside Paris where he was brought for treatment last Friday. Only Suha Arafat and the Palestinian leader's cousin, Palestinian UN representative Nasser al-Kidwa, are allowed to visit the stricken Arafat.

Arafat: One of the World's Richest Men


Yasir Arafat, the father of modern-day terrorism, remains unconscious in the French hospital's hematology ward, where Israel allowed him to fly last week. Some reports say that Arafat has leukemia. His brother, Fathi Arafat, is hospitalized in Cairo, with what his doctors say is advanced stomach cancer.

Arafat was born in August 1929, in Cairo - and not in Jerusalem or Gaza, as Arab sources often claim. Over the course of his career, which began well before 1964 when he took over the PLO, he has been directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Israelis, untold numbers of Arabs and more than 100 U.S. citizens including two diplomats in Sudan whose brutal murders Arafat ordered by radio from his Beirut headquarters. In 1995, Ariel Sharon said, "I don't know anyone other than Arafat who has as much civilian Jewish blood on his hands since the time of the Nazis."

Arafat is also "credited" with turning airplane hijacking into an international terrorist scourge. Over two years ago, after an Israeli plane was almost shot down in Kenya, then-Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned, "Sky-jacking terrorism first began against Israeli targets abroad by Arafat and Fatah in the late 1960's, and it very quickly became an international plague..."

As father of the Palestinian nationalist/terrorist movement, Arafat saw nothing wrong with "uniting" the PLO's money and his own personal accounts. He reserved for himself sole signatory rights on the PLO's accounts, and never hid the fact that he often used the money for his own personal use. A special annual issue of Forbes Magazine reported that Arafat controlled $300 million, placing him among the richest in the "Kings, Queens and Despots" category. Some reports are that he controls five times that amount.

He also used the money for terrorism. Documents found by the IDF during its Operation Defensive Shield campaign in April 2002 showed that part of the huge budget of the Palestinian Authority - funded to a great extent by countries of the European Union - was diverted by Arafat for terrorism purposes. In one example among many, a letter was found signed by Arafat authorizing the transfer of thousands of dinars to Ahmed Mahmad Iz-A-Din Al-Kassam, a Hamas member who also represented Hizbullah in the PA and was responsible for transferring money for terror attacks and supporting terrorists' families.

Arafat turned down this week a request by his wife Suha, who lives in Paris, to write a will granting her his money. Experts say that the fact that he refuses to share his signatory privileges, even now, with anyone else, means that the tremendous amounts of money that were designated for the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza will either support bankers around the world in the best case, or will go to his relatives, or, in the worst-case scenario, will find their way into the Fatah coffers to continue to fund terrorism.

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