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Israel critical of Vatican over Arafat visit with Pope

A verbal battle between the Vatican and Israel continued Tuesday.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Menachem Begin criticized the Pope for agreeing to see Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He also accused the Vatican of being inactive during the Nazi Holocaust and of doing little about the suffering of Christians during the Lebanese civil war of 1975-76.

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The Vatican angrily rejected Israel's charges, and Israel expressed surprise Tuesday at the Vatican's sharp reply. A government official said Israel was very disturbed that the Pope is scheduled to hold a private audience with the Palestine Liberation Organization leader Sept. 15.