- The Washington Times - Monday, December 3, 2001

President Bush yesterday condemned the suicide bombings in Israel as "horrific acts of murder" and demanded that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat find those responsible and bring them to justice.
"This is a moment where the advocates for peace in the Middle East must rise up and fight terror. Chairman Arafat must do everything in his power to find those who murdered innocent Israelis and bring them to justice," Mr. Bush told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.
The president was returning from Camp David for a hastily called meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
"It's time for [Mr. Arafat] to act. It's a moment of truth for him," added Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on CNN's "Late Edition."
Mr. Sharon, who did not speak with reporters as he left the White House, was initially scheduled to meet Mr. Bush today. The meeting was moved up to yesterday morning and Mr. Sharon immediately headed home. He began the scheduled five-day visit Friday in New York.
The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing late Saturday against a pedestrian mall filled with young people in Jerusalem and for a second such attack yesterday that blew up a bus in the port city of Haifa.
The two attacks, which killed 25 persons and injured nearly 200, are the latest in successive waves of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. Just this past Thursday, three Israelis were killed and seven more injured by a suicide bomber near Hadera.
In his statement before meeting with Mr. Sharon, Mr. Bush did not ask Israel to show restraint in responding to the deadly terrorist bombings. The administration previously had urged restraint by Israel in statements following attacks by Palestinian terrorist groups.
White House spokesman Sean McCormick said the focus of the Bush-Sharon meeting was on the need for Mr. Arafat to act against terrorist groups "if he is to be a leader."
But U.S. officials who appeared on network news talk shows yesterday, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and some prominent senators, were skeptical that Mr. Arafat could deliver on any promises to fight terrorism.
Mr. Rumsfeld, interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press," cited Mr. Arafat's own background in terrorism.
"He is not a particularly strong leader, and I don't know that he has good control over the Palestinian situation," the defense secretary said.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said on CNN: "You've got a leader of the Palestinians who's basically, in my opinion, cooperating with the terrorists, rather than trying to put them away."
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman added that "The tragic events of the last 24 hours in Israel go back to a failure of leadership by Arafat that goes back years, and it's a failure to prepare the Palestinian people for peace for Israel."
Unless Mr. Arafat "arrests all those who are part of factions that he may not control, that carried out the violent acts" in Israel, "there's no hope but more violence," the Connecticut Democrat predicted.
Mr. Arafat immediately promised harsh action against Islamic militants and declared a state of emergency. Palestinian police yesterday began rounding up those with ties to Hamas and similar groups.
On CNN, Mr. Powell said he was glad to learn of this development. "This was an attack against Palestinian leadership an attack he could not overlook," he said.
The latest suicide bombings came less than a week after Mr. Powell dispatched a peace envoy to Israel to try to broker a lasting cease-fire after 14 months of Israeli-Palestinian warfare.
Mr. Powell said he spoke with Mr. Arafat by phone after the bombing in Jerusalem and told him he had to be firm in dealing with terrorists.
The secretary said there must be both immediate and thorough action against the perpetrators.
Find them, "arrest them and keep them in jail," said Mr. Powell, adding:
"I think he should shut down all those organizations that may be acting beyond his authority and the law that they have created within the Palestinian Authority. He has to go after them."
Asked to identify the organizations he wants emasculated, the secretary said, "I'm referring to those responsible for these actions and those who take credit for these actions. Hamas is one. Palestinian Islamic Jihad is another."
Mr. Powell held that the suicide bombings "were not only a terrible attack against innocent Israelis but also an attack against (Mr. Arafat's) authority."
American Jewish leaders condemned the attack, and one prominent group said that the Middle East peace process is now dead.
Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, who lead the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement: "The Middle East peace process is dead. It was buried by the murders of children" in Israel.

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