Israel has formally declared Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat an enemy and invaded his headquarters in Ramallah. Troops, tanks, and helicopters moved in this morning, killed several people, and began shelling Arafat’s headquarters.
The invasion came shortly after the Arab world unanimously offered Israel peace and recognition for the first time. The offer came at the Arab summit in Beirut, and specified that Israel would withdraw from all the Arab lands it occupied in the 1967 war and recognize a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem. In response to the historic declaration, Arafat announced he was prepared for an immediate cease-fire.
But Israel denounced the offer and announced it is calling up 20,000 reservists to free regular forces for an operation in the Occupied Territories that could last a long time.
Meanwhile, a female suicide bomber detonated explosives at the entrance to a Jerusalem supermarket today, killing herself and injuring about 20. Earlier, a Palestinian gunman killed four Israelis on Thursday after infiltrating a Jewish settlement near the West Bank city of Nablus.
The Arab League also engineered an unprecedented reconciliation between Iraq and Kuwait. Iraq agreed to recognize Kuwait as an independent state and not to invade it again. In return for this support, Arab leaders vowed that any American military attack on Iraq would be considered an attack against all Arab states. Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia publicly embraced and kissed Iraq’s representatives.
The New York Times reports: "The message from the Saudis seemed clear. They coordinated an unprecedented Arab peace initiative toward Israel on the very day they also pushed through a surprise Kuwaiti-Iraqi reconciliation, suggesting that if the former problem could be solved, the Iraqi issue could, too."
- Mustafa Barghouti, President of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committee, in Ramullah.
- Huwaida Arras, the coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement, in Ramullah.