JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Sunday he would never let Yasser Arafat be buried in Jerusalem but would honor a commitment to allow the Palestinian leader to return to the West Bank when he finishes medical treatment in France.

Meanwhile, senior Palestinian officials held high-level meetings to prove the government was still functioning in Arafat’s absence.

Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, whose efforts to force Arafat to relinquish some power have largely failed, chaired a session of the Palestinian National Security Council, which commands the most important of the myriad Palestinian security forces.

Qureia asked the security chiefs to draw up a list of whatever they need to tighten security in the Palestinian areas and present it to his Cabinet for approval, said Palestinian politician Abbas Zaki. The move apparently was meant to head off chaotic infighting in a post-Arafat period of uncertainty.

In a symbolic gesture, Qureia refused to sit at the head of the table, Arafat’s place.

The Palestinian Legislative Council also met Sunday and the PLO executive committee, which met Saturday, held a second meeting on Sunday night.

“In a commitment … to our president, our national symbol, we are convening all our institutions as we used to do when he was present,” said Jibril Rajoub, Arafat’s top security adviser.

No concrete decisions were announced by any of the bodies from the flurry of meetings, and the leaders in Ramallah appeared to still defer to Arafat and his entourage in Paris.


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