The Middle East is the center of attention of the world's news agencies. The scandal with the contraband shipment of weapons is further developing. The captain of the vessel, which was detained by Israeli borderguards last Thursday in the Red Sea, confessed that the vessel was carrying weapons to the PLO. Omar Akavy, who was commanding the vessel with 50 tons of such cargo aboard, made the statement Monday in an interview to the Israeli and American media (Akavy gave the interview while being in jail.) Ariel Sharon, the Israeli premier, charged Yasser Arafat with being being one of the key links of the international terrorism. The Palestinian administration admitted that Akavy was a member of the Fatah organization, of which Arafat is the leader. However, the administration rejected the charges on the issue of the illegal importation of weapons. Arafat’s spokesman claimed that if the fact of illegal importation of weapons is confirmed, then all the guilty people will be punished accordingly. Akavy said he was executing an order from the Palestinian leaders: “I am a soldier. I obey orders.”
In order to pacify the furious Israelis, Yasser Arafat announced the beginning of an interior probe. This announcement was made after a meeting with the supreme representative of the European Union for the issues of foreign policy, Javier Solana.
As Arafat stated, all the details connected with the incident in the Red Sea will be investigated. Arafat also mentioned that if any representative of the Palestinian national administration is found guilty, then he would personally order their punishment. Arafat called upon the USA, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations to participate in the international probe.
The press-secretary of the Israeli prime minister, Raanan Gissin, stated, responding to Arafat’s words, that it was another ruse: “What else did he have to do in front of the conclusive evidence?”
If we do not take account of the version connected with a provocation of the Israeli special services, to which this scandal could be very good, then we cannot envy Arafat. His reputation of a Nobel Prize winner has been soiled, but it is not a new thing for Arafat.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov