NEWS

Arafat deportation decision ‘a mistake’

Athens yesterday criticized Thursday’s decision by the Israeli Cabinet to expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, arguing that such a move would only serve to further heighten tension in the region. «I must stress that I consider the decision to be a mistake, for, if implemented, such a decision will create new tension and, possibly, further turmoil in the Middle East,» Foreign Minister George Papandreou told journalists after a meeting with Premier Costas Simitis. «Instead of keeping [Arafat] hostage, [the Israelis] should set him free and not send him into exile.» But he refused to be drawn on whether Greece would be willing to take in Arafat, should Israel expel him. Opposition parties also attacked the Israeli Cabinet’s decision. Left-wing and human rights groups protested against the deportation plans yesterday afternoon outside the Israeli Embassy in Athens.