Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, claimed Tuesday that Israel might try to sabotage Palestinian elections in January or even resort to assassination to upset balloting. After talks at the White House and then with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the longtime associate of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said thousands of monitors were needed to oversee the elections Jan. 25. "We want the American administration to help us, to send as many observers as possible, people to help us in the training and making sure that the Israelis don't sabotage or obstruct those elections," he said in a doorway of the State Department after meeting with Rice. Later, at a news conference at the Palestine Center, Erekat referred a half-dozen times to the possibility of Israeli sabotage and twice to assassination. In response to a reporter's question, Erekat, who is a top Palestinian negotiator, said he did not have any evidence Israel was contemplating assassinations, but said Israel was refusing to cooperate in setting the stage for elections.