In interviews with leading Italian publications, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat went into some detail regarding the genesis and operation of Hamas. To Corriere della Sera on Dec. 11, he said:
"We are doing everything possible to stop the violence. But Hamas is a creature of Israel which, at the time of Prime Minister [Yitzhak] Shamir [the late 1980s, when Hamas arose], gave them money and more than 700 institutions, among them schools, universities and mosques. Even [former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin ended up admitting it, when I charged him with it, in the presence of [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak."
In an interview with L'Espresso on Dec. 19, Arafat said:
"Hamas was constituted with the support of Israel. The aim was to create an organization antagonistic to the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization]. They [Hamas] received financing and training from Israel. They have continued to benefit from permits and authorizations, while we have been limited, even [for permits] to build a tomato factory. Rabin himself defined it as a fatal error. Some collaborationists of Israel are involved in these [terrorist] attacks. We have the proof, and we are placing it at the disposal of the Italian government."
When asked what he thought of "these sons of Palestine who blow themselves up and spread death among Israeli civilians," Arafat answered:
"Israel does not allow us to live a normal life. Youth who have nothing to eat, who don't see any future in front of them, are easy prey of the Islamist movements, which have large amounts of financing at their disposal. And where the money comes from is known. President Bush froze in one bank in Texas alone, $61 million. Where does this money come from?"
The interviewer asked: "Where?"
Arafat: "Ask the U.S. administration, which knows all the details. Ask the Italian government too, and some Arab countries."