Published September 14, 2003
JERUSALEM – Israel's vice prime minister said Sunday that killing Yasser Arafat (search) is an option being considered following a decision to "remove" the Palestinian leader.
"Killing (Arafat) is definitely one of the options," vice premier Ehud Olmert (search) told Israel Radio.
Israel's security Cabinet said last week it had decided to "remove" Arafat, but did not elaborate.
Olmert's statement echoed threats by other Israeli leaders who have said they are keeping options open as to whether the decision means Arafat will be expelled, further isolated at his West Bank compound or dealt with more harshly.
But Olmert, considered a likely future candidate for premier, is the official closest to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (search) to state Arafat might be killed.
Israel says Arafat is at least indirectly to blame for the terror attacks against its civilians, and blames him for blocking peace efforts.
The security Cabinet's vaguely worded decision Thursday seemed to leave open a wide range of options. But Israeli troops have not moved to act against Arafat in his compound, where thousands have demonstrated in support of him in recent days.
The Israeli decision has brought on an onslaught of international condemnation, and the Palestinians have asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene to protect Arafat.