Arabic TV station cancels an interview with Sharon

The statement issued by Abed Rabbo read, "We appreciate Al-Jazeera's role, and despite our consideration for the freedom of the press and freedom of opinion, it is not justified for a prominent Arab satellite channel to interview Sharon, especially under such circumstances, regarding the crimes and escalation that he has committed against the Palestinian people."

PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, on the other hand, has appeared on Channel 1 and Channel 2 a number of times, and has also met on numerous occasions with Israeli print journalists during the current violence. Al-Jazeera was slated to interview Arafat Wednesday, in advance of the Arab League summit in Beirut.

A number of Arab journalists covering the summit delivered a petition to Al-Jazeera condemning it for planning to interview "the Zionist criminal Ariel Sharon, killer of Arab women, children, and the elderly."

According to the agreement with the station, Sharon's spokesman Arnon Perlman said, Sharon was to be interviewed in his office by Walid al-Amri, the station's reporter here.

When the station insisted Sharon be interviewed instead by its anchorman in Qatar, the Prime Minister's Office demanded the original agreement be upheld. The interview was then called off.

Perlman said Sharon, like all previous prime ministers, only gives interviews when the reporter sits with him and asks the questions.

After the interview was canceled, an Al-Jazeera announcer told viewers Sharon wanted to impose "technical conditions."

"It appears the policy of dictates and conditions is part of Sharon's mentality, not only in dealing with politics but also with the media," the announcer said.