- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2001

The United States said yesterday it will continue to work with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat but refrained from rebuking Israel for cutting ties with Mr. Arafat or for mounting a wide-scale military campaign in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Washington still recognizes Mr. Arafat as the legitimate leader of the Palestinian Authority while urging him to "get rid of" Hamas and other "terrorist" groups responsible for several recent attacks on Israeli civilians.
"They are more likely to destroy the Palestinian cause than to destroy the state of Israel," Mr. Powell said of those groups. "And that is why Mr. Arafat, it seems to me, has the burden upon him to act very aggressively."
"Mr. Arafat has a choice to make," he told reporters at the State Department. "He has to go after these organizations who are ignoring the possibility of peace."
At the White House, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said President Bush "believes it is incumbent on Chairman Arafat to demonstrate in actions and deeds, and not just words, that he would bring the killers to justice."
As the United States kept the pressure on Mr. Arafat, Gen. Anthony Zinni, Mr. Powell's special Middle East envoy, met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Mr. Powell said "we are having discussions" with the Israelis on their decision to sever ties with Mr. Arafat and renew attacks on Palestinian targets, but stopped short of characterizing those moves.
Israel decided to beef up its military operation yesterday, after two Palestinian attacks on a civilian bus in the West Bank and on a car in the Gaza Strip left 10 Israelis dead and scores wounded late Wednesday.
Mr. Sharon's security Cabinet also said that Mr. Arafat "is no longer relevant as far as Israel is concerned and there will be no more contact with him," but that doesn't mean the Palestinian leader would be personally harmed.
Mr. Powell said Mr. Sharon "is aware of our concerns about going back into" Palestinian territories "and staying there for extended periods," but "we are not in a position to put constraints on him."
Another senior State Department official said later that the United States was urging Israel to "think its actions through and consider the repercussions."
As he acknowledged that the situation in the Middle East "is getting worse, not better," Mr. Powell vowed not to give up hope. "We cannot walk away from this. The stakes are too high."
The secretary spoke at the official start of an advertising campaign offering rewards of up to $25 million for any information about attacks on the United States.
The ads, which will start airing domestically and then go abroad in Arabic and Spanish next year, ask people to be on the alert for suspicious behavior and report it to the FBI or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
The State Department is also offering rewards for information leading to the arrest of Palestinian terrorists who have killed Americans in Israel, in the West Bank and in Gaza.
"We are in the process of developing on our Web site individuals we believe have participated in terrorist attacks against Americans throughout the world or specifically in Israel," Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security David Carpenter said at a briefing.

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