Sunday, January 31, 1999 Published at 22:24 GMT
World: Middle East
Arafat says statehood date 'sacred'
Yasser Arafat and Kofi Annan in Davos
Yasser Arafat has warned world leaders the target date of 4 May for a declaration of Palestinian statehood is "sacred".
The Palestinian leader was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as the 31 January deadline for the full implementation of October's Wye River agreement passed.
The Israeli Government effectively suspended the Wye River agreement in December when it refused to carry out a second military withdrawal from the West Bank
Jails still bulging
Over 200 prisoners were released but the Palestinian authorities complained that criminals were released instead of political prisoners.
The Israeli Government says the Palestinians are not implementing the security measures which had been discussed at the Wye Plantation.
Attempts by the US to get the Israelis to budge have proved fruitless and the announcement of the Israeli elections in May has put the situation in limbo.
Fasting and praying
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Resistence Movement Hamas called on all Palestinians to fast for 12 hours on Monday and pray for the release of Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners.
"You remember it has been agreed upon and signed by Russia, by America, by the European Union, by Norway, by Jordan, by Egypt, in the presence of the Japanese foreign minister and the representative of Mr Kofi Annan.
"So it is not a bilateral agreement, it is an international agreement."
Mr Arafat, the chairman of the Palestinian National Authority, wants to declare a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza on 4 May.
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, who met Mr Arafat at Davos, said he hoped the Palestinians would delay the proclamation of a state for some time to avoid "extremists creating problems."
The Palestinians have been coming under discreet pressure from Egypt, the US and the Europeans to delay the announcement of a state until the end of the year.
Mr Arafat is flying to the US on Monday and will travel on to Germany later in the week.