Israel has declared war, Arafat asserts

"The collective punishments, the refusal to withdraw from Hebron, and the Israeli army's reconquest of areas from which it had withdrawn are a declaration of war against the Palestinian people."

Portions of the letter were read by Mohammed Subieh, the Palestine Liberation Organization's representative to the Arab League, at a press conference in Cairo.

Arafat asked for Arab League support and for the league "to request an immediate meeting of the U.N. Security Council to put an end to the closure."

Arafat, meanwhile, last week made his first visit to the West Bank since the closure was imposed Feb. 25, for a meeting of the Palestinian Council in Ramallah, council speaker Ahmed Qreia said.

In a related development, Peace Watch has reported that the Palestinian Authority has yet to arrest six of the 13 Hamas members whose names were on the wanted list the Israeli army's Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak presented to Arafat on Feb. 27.

In addition, the group said, there are doubts whether Awad Silmi, one of those on the list, who was arrested in early March, remains in prison.