Israel was peeved Tuesday over British Prime Minister Tony Blair's reference to Yasser Arafat as Palestinian "president."
Asked about Blair's use of the title at a news conference with Arafat in Gaza on Monday, Israeli Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh told Israel Radio: "I must say very clearly he is not a president. He is in sum the chairman of the Palestinian Authority."The Palestinians are used to calling him `president.' Others can call him what they call him," said Naveh, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Many visiting dignitaries began referring to Arafat as "president" after Palestinians in self-rule areas elected him to head the Palestinian National Authority in 1996.
Israel and the United States continue to address him as "chairman."
Asked about the title tiff, Blair said, "We've really heard what I found quite a moving expression from your prime minister of the important issues at stake here. I think we should concentrate on those, really."