updated 9/22/2004 8:31:31 AM ET 2004-09-22T12:31:31

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Wednesday renewed Israel’s threat to remove Yasser Arafat, saying the Palestinian president would “get what he deserves.”

Sharon told Israel Radio that Israel would take action against Arafat at a time of its choosing as it did in assassinating two Hamas leaders earlier this year in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials have made threats against Arafat before, but political sources say such a move is unlikely as long as the United States, Israel’s close ally, strongly opposes it.

Sharon, a right-wing former general, suggested in an Israeli newspaper interview last week that Israel might either assassinate Arafat or expel him from the Palestinian territories.

“We acted against the heads of Hamas ... in a way we found right at the right time when it was convenient for us,” Sharon said on Wednesday. “When the issue of dealing with Arafat comes up, we will act again in this fashion.”

Asked whether the veteran Palestinian leader would face the same fate as the chiefs of Hamas, an Islamic militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, Sharon said, “Everyone will get what he deserves.”

Asked what he thought Arafat deserved, he replied, “Do you want the list of all the dead (Israelis)?”

Responding to Sharon’s threat, Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat, said, “This is incitement to kill President Arafat ... This Israeli government is continuing its exit strategy from the peace process.”

Sidelined
Israel and the United States have tried to sideline Arafat, accusing him of fomenting violence during a four-year-old Palestinian uprising.

Arafat, 75, effectively confined to his battered West Bank headquarters by Israel since late 2001, denies such accusations.

Israel’s cabinet decided in principle last year to “remove” Arafat but did not say how or when it would take action.

Washington has made clear it opposes harming or expelling Arafat, long an icon of Palestinian nationalism, out of concern that this might inflame the region.

Hamas threatens suicide bombing
A day earlier, the Hamas militant group threatened a suicide bombing in retaliation for Israel’s latest airstrike in Gaza, which killed two militants from the Islamic group.

An Israeli helicopter fired a missile at a vehicle in Gaza City at nightfall Monday, incinerating the car and killing the two Hamas men instantly. Israel charged that they were going to fire rockets at Israeli targets.

Israel is planning to withdraw its soldiers and dismantle all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza next year, and analysts predict escalating violence as the pullout approaches.

Palestinian militants are trying to show that they are ejecting the Israelis by force, while Israel is just as determined to hit the militants and demonstrate that it would not tolerate attacks after the withdrawal.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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