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Conservative press adds to criticism of Arafat

TEHRAN, Oct 5 (AFP) - The conservative Iranian press on Thursday added to the growing criticism of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat following the latest Middle East violence which has left more than 70 people dead.

Arafat, who held emergency talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Paris, is doing nothing but "making himself and his people suffer utter humiliation," the Kayhan International daily said.

"Any other person in place of Arafat would never have left Palestine when it was burning and his compatriots were being massacred by the Zionist forces," it said.

"Arafat has blundered in the past and is blundering right now. Enough is enough. The guy should be stopped from running behind the 'US mediators,'" the paper said, calling his behaviour "totally bewildering."

It said the Palestinian leader, "in spite of his simple-mindedness, by now (should have) realised that it is towards a mirage and not 'peace' that he has been led."

The Abrar paper said, "It has been nine years since Arafat and his supporters laid down their arms and have given Tel Aviv the handshake of friendship in the hope of securing the rights of the Palestinian people.

"In all this time, despite Arafat's retreat from his original stance, the Zionists have not only given him nothing, but have used him to put out the flames of the intifada."

Arafat has come under growing criticism over his peace efforts with Israel after a week of street clashes.

Hamas spokesman-in-exile Ibrahim Ghosheh said Sunday during a visit to Tehran that Arafat should step down and "not make this uprising fail."

But the group later issued a statement saying: "The call for the resignation of the chairman of the Palestinian Authority does not reflect the movement's position or policy."


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