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The Media Line Sunday News Roundup

1. PALESTINIANS CLAIM IMPROVEMENT IN ARAFAT…Palestinian spokespeople say Yassir Arafat’s health and general humor has improved since he began treatment in a French military hospital on Friday. The 75 year old only agreed to leave his Ramallah office after sets of doctors from Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia told him he needed urgent medical attention. Arafat’s spokespeople have played down his illness over the last two weeks, claiming he had a bout of flu or gallstones. However, the teams of Arab doctors flown in from the Middle East included oncologists, heightening speculation that Arafat is suffering from cancer. However, his spokespeople say he definitely does not have cancer in his bloodstream.

2. PALESTINIAN LEADERS MEET WITHOUT ARAFAT…For the first time in 40 years Palestinian leaders have been meeting with Yassir Arafat effectively not in control. The leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization met on Saturday, under the chairmanship of former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud ‘Abbas. He called on the Palestinian people to show their wholehearted support for Arafat. Reports from Ramallah say no decisions were made in Arafat’s absence. The Palestinian security council is meeting on Sunday.

3. VANUNU NOT ALLOWED RESIDENCE IN SWEDEN…Sweden has rejected a plea for asylum from Israel’s nuclear ‘whistleblower’ Mordechai Vanunu. The fact that Vanunu made his application from within Israel was sufficient for Stockholm to turn down his application. Vanunu served 18 years in prison after he passed what he said were details of Israel’s reactor at Dimona to Britain’s The Sunday Times.

4. ISRAELI, PALESTINIAN GUNFIRE CLAIMS VICTIMS…Palestinian gunmen managed to infiltrate the Jewish village Psagot in Samaria, at the northern end of the West Bank, and shoot a security guard at a gas station on Saturday. The three men managed to flee the scene. Medics say the guard suffered minor injuries. Meanwhile, Palestinians say Israeli soldiers killed a 12-year-old boy. They say the Israelis opened fire when they were being stoned by a group of Palestinians. Israel says the soldiers came under fire and responded.

5. MORTAR ROUND HITS ISRAELI…Medics said a young Israeli adult was moderately wounded when he was hit by a mortar round in Gaza on Sunday morning. At least four mortars landed on Kfar Darom, with several others hitting nearby villages. Several vehicles were damaged in the attacks.

6. FOUR-HUNDRED ROCKETS LAND IN ISRAELI TOWN…Some 400 Hamas-made Qassam rockets have landed on the Israeli town Sderot since 2001, the town’s Mayor Eli Moyal told The Media Line’s syndicated daily radio program The International News Hour. Thousands have landed in the surrounding area, he said. Four residents of the town in pre-1967 Israel have been killed.

7. SHARON MEETS REBEL POLITICIAN…Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is meeting his Likud party colleague and Education Minister Limor Livnat on Sunday. Livnat reportedly has threatened to resign along with Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu if Sharon fails to submit his Gaza-withdrawal plan to a referendum. Netanyahu has given Sharon until the middle of next week to act.

8. REPORTS: ISRAELIS RESCUE PALESTINIANS IN FLOODING…Israeli rescue teams helped save at least one Palestinian in heavy rains in the West Bank on Saturday. The team was called in to help by Palestinian officials in the Jenin area. Dozens of Israelis had to be rescued from floodwaters in southern Israel. Several of the key routes through the Negev Desert had to be closed.