- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2002

JERUSALEM Yasser Arafat criticized U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice yesterday for condemning his Palestinian Authority, saying she has no right to dictate to Palestinians how their future state should look.
Mr. Arafat spoke shortly after a Palestinian blew himself up in Israeli territory near the West Bank, killing only himself.
Later yesterday, Palestinians said Israeli soldiers shot and killed Walid Sbeh, a prominent figure in a Palestinian militia in the Bethlehem area. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
Palestinians said Mr. Sbeh was killed in his car in El Khader, near Bethlehem, as he was leaving the village. Soldiers opened fire from an army base on a nearby hill, they said.
Mr. Sbeh was an activist in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militia affiliated with Mr. Arafat's Fatah movement. Israel Radio reported he was involved in organizing suicide-bomb attacks in Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, meanwhile, told his Cabinet that for now he opposes Palestinian statehood in any form. U.S. officials are considering the formation of a provisional Palestinian state, with temporary borders and limited sovereignty, as an interim step toward a final peace deal.
The Palestinians, according to a document obtained yesterday by the Associated Press, proposed to U.S. officials an outline for a final peace deal in which they softened positions on refugees and offered Israel sovereignty over the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City and parts of the Western Wall.
Israeli government spokesman Dore Gold said he wasn't aware of the proposal.
Also yesterday, Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said planning would begin this month to extend a controversial electronic fence now under construction to the length of the entire West Bank. The fence is intended to keep out suicide bombers.
Mr. Arafat has been under U.S. and Israeli pressure to curb attacks on Israel, and both nations have begun urging reforms in the Palestinian Authority and new elections. Israel wants Mr. Arafat sidelined. The United States has been openly critical of the Palestinian leader, but has stopped short of demanding he be replaced.
Miss Rice, in an interview with the Mercury News, a San Jose, Calif., newspaper, said a Palestinian state should not be based on Mr. Arafat's Palestinian Authority, which she said is "corrupt and cavorts with terror."
Asked about the Rice comment, Mr. Arafat said yesterday that "she does not have the right to put or impose orders on us about what to do or not to do."
This week, President Bush is expected to announce his vision for how to proceed in Middle East peace efforts. One idea being considered despite Israeli rejection and Palestinian wariness is to form a provisional Palestinian state.
Mr. Ben-Eliezer, meanwhile, said he believed yesterday's suicide bomber was one of five assailants Israeli security forces have been searching for in recent days.

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