Arafat: Karine A Arms Ship Operated by Israeli Building Company

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat told Egyptian television that the "Karine A" ship, which was seized by the Israeli Navy while carrying more than 50 tons of weapons, was operated by an Israeli company importing building materials from Romania.

"The ship belonged to an Iraqi citizen of Kurdish origin living in Romania, and in the past several years has been sailing between Romania and Ashdod," Arafat said in an interview on Egyptian television, excerpts of which were published by the Egyptian news agency on Saturday.

"The ship transported mainly building materials such as concrete, iron and wood, destined for an Israeli company, ICM, located in Tel Aviv," Arafat said.

"The ship has been seen dozens of times in Ashdod," Arafat emphasized, adding that "the whole world knows that there is no military cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Iran."

Israeli naval commandos captured the "Karine A" ship in the Red Sea carrying more than 50 tons of weaponry destined for the Palestinian Authority on January 3. Israeli leaders said the smuggling operation had been initiated by the Palestinian Authority and had been carried out with the consent of Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Israel also pointed to the involvement of Iran in the supply of the weapons. Both the Palestinian Authority and Iran denied any involvement.