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World Bank To Support Arab Paper

November 21, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An arm of the World Bank is planning to lend $1.8 million to a West Bank company whose Arab-language newspaper has run columns harshly critical of the United States and Israel.

Brigid Janssen, a spokeswoman for the lender, the World Bank’s International Finance Corp., said the loan was to assist the newspaper’s parent company, whose owners are moderates and support the Middle East peace process. She called the project of assisting media ``not unusual for us.″

Forward, an English-language Jewish newspaper published in New York, first reported the proposed loan on Friday. It said columnists of the West Bank newspaper, Al-Ayyam, had called America ``Satan″ and an ``evil empire.″

Another column in the newspaper, which is published in Ramallah, an Arab town in an area of the West Bank controlled by Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, had suggested ``popular violence against Israel,″ Forward reported.

The small, pro-Arafat newspaper has a circulation of about 10,000. It is owned by Sabeeh Masri, a Jordanian businessman who lives in Saudi Arabia and has joint businesses with the ruling family in Saudi Arabia.

The company also has a contract with the Palestinian Authority to print school textbooks.

Forward quoted columnist Izat al-Ghazawi as having written a year ago that ``the greatest U.S. aspiration is to establish its role as the sole policeman of the world and dictate humiliating terms of submission to the Arab world.″

Another columnist, Khalil al-Sawahari, wrote last November that ``hateful Western racism is trying to wipe Iraq off the face of the earth just like it erased the Arab rule in general and deprived it of the ability to exist independently of the American-Zionist hegemony.″

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