The Associated Press
Thursday, May 2, 2002; 8:12 PM
JERUSALEM –– Captured Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti has told Israeli interrogators that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat personally approved weapons funding for attacks against Israelis, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said Thursday.
Palestinian officials contacted by The Associated Press refused to comment on the report. In the past, they have consistently denied that Arafat approved attacks against Israelis, citing his denunciations of attacks against civilians on both sides.
Barghouti, 41, captured in the West Bank town of Ramallah on April 15, is the highest ranking Palestinian leader to be taken into custody during Israel's recent sweep through the West Bank.
Since then, he has complained that he has been permitted only short periods of sleep and has been questioned around the clock for days at a time.
Israel has charged that Arafat is responsible for Palestinian violence during 19 months of conflict, by encouraging militants and failing to crack down on extremists. The Israelis also say that in recent months, most of the attacks against Israelis have come from groups affiliated with Arafat's Fatah.