With Israeli officials saying Yasser Arafat’s expulsion from Ramallah is “closer then ever,” the Palestinian Authority warned the Israeli government yesterday against carrying out any action that would harm the Palestinian leader.

Hassan Abu Lebda, the PA Cabinet secretary general, said any Israeli action against Arafat “would be a crazy step that would certainly lead to the collapse of the peace process in the Middle East.”

Lebda called on the representatives of the Quartet – the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations – to meet in New York to discuss Israeli threats to deport Arafat.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz warned in recent remarks they will shortly address the “Arafat problem.”

“There is no room for Arafat among us, and the time will come when we will remove him … and that day is closer than ever,” Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said yesterday.

Israel and the United States have tried to sideline Arafat, accusing him of fomenting violence in the nearly 4-year-old Palestinian intifada.

The comments follow a WorldNetDaily report that after 31 years, the FBI is now gathering evidence about Arafat’s culpability in a March 1, 1973, operation in which eight members of the Black September terrorist organization, part of Arafat’s Fatah faction of the PLO, stormed the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, reportedly on Arafat’s orders, taking U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel, diplomat Charge d’Affaires George Curtis Moore and others hostage, and one day later, killing Noel, Moore and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid.

If Arafat is charged with the murders, a warrant would be issued for his arrest, making him a fugitive in the U.S.

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