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Arafat Says Palestinian State: ‘The Will Of God’

Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat said Saturday the establishment of a Palestinian state is inevitable despite the opposition of Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu.

Arafat, however, refrained from verbally attacking Netanyahu, who called Thursday for both sides to avoid tough rhetoric.

“It has to be known that this state will be established by the will of God,” Arafat said.

Earlier Saturday, Palestinian cabinet minister Abdel Jawad Saleh said hard-line policies attributed to Netanyahu constitute “a declaration of war against the Palestinians and the peace process.”

Israel won’t allow the establishment of a Palestinian state or a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem and will expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank, according to a policy document drawn up by Netanyahu aides and reported Friday in the Israeli media.

“This is a total rejection of the peace process,” said another Palestinian cabinet minister, Muhammad Nashashibi.

The ministers’ comments followed an 8-1/2-hour cabinet meeting convened Friday night by Arafat to further discuss the implications of the May 29 victory of Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud Party.

The official cabinet statement, issued by the Palestinian News Agency WAFA, called on Netanyahu to honor the peace accord that the outgoing Labor Party administration signed with the Palestinians and implement it according to the agreed timetable.