Profile: Israel Pulls Back From Yasser Arafat's Compound, but Vows to Arrest Wanted Palestinian Militants Holed Up Inside

Weekend Edition Sunday: September 29, 2002

Israeli Withdrawl



LIANE HANSEN, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

Israeli tanks have pulled out of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound after an Israeli decision to ease the 10-day-old siege. The White House says President Bush welcomes the action, but Arafat calls it a cosmetic move aimed at deceiving the world. Israeli officials say they still intend to arrest Palestinians on Israel's wanted list if they try to leave the compound. NPR's Linda Gradstein reports.

LINDA GRADSTEIN reporting:

Israeli tanks today pulled out of Arafat's compound and troops dismantled barbed wire around it. Palestinian witnesses said that after the Israelis left, dozens of Palestinians streamed into the compound, some carrying posters of the Palestinian leader. Armed men who had been holed up with Arafat also came out of the one building still standing.

Arafat told reporters that the Israeli pullback is not a withdrawal, but only moving a few meters away. An Israeli official said if any of the men on Israel's wanted list try to leave the compound, they will be arrested. Yet other Palestinian officials called the Israel pullback a victory for the Palestinian cause and a blow to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Israeli media reports say Israel decided to ease the siege after heavy pressure from the Bush administration, including a letter from President Bush himself. Israeli officials say troops will continue to be stationed outside the compound. Israel imposed the siege after two Palestinian suicide bombings killed seven people. Linda Gradstein, NPR News, Jerusalem.

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Spring Lineup
From March 18 to June 21, 2002, Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen will serve as an interim host on All Things Considered, while its co-host Noah Adams is on leave to write a book. Until Hansen returns to Weekend Edition Sunday in July, NPR's Lynn Neary will host.