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Palestinian leader unfazed

Ramallah, Sept. 17 (Reuters): Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said today he was unfazed by a US veto of a UN resolution demanding that Israel not harm or expel him.

“We are not shaken by a resolution from one place or another,” Arafat told a delegation of Palestinian intellectuals and artists at his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “We are more important than any resolution.” Other Palestinian officials said the US veto yesterday, which angered the Arab world, showed that Washington was turning its back on a peace “road map”.

In some of the most scathing Palestinian criticism since US President George W. Bush formally launched the peace plan in June, cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said US policy had become a “hostage” to Israeli hardliners.

The right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon touched off an international outcry last week by announcing a decision to“remove” the 74-year-old Arafat following two suicide bombings that killed 15 Israelis. Israel has not said how or when it will“remove” Arafat.

In vetoing the resolution, which demanded Israel“desist from any act of deportation and cease any threat” to Arafat's safety, the United States Ä Israel's chief ally Ä said the text failed to name Palestinian groups blamed for suicide attacks.

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