- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 6, 2001

JERUSALEM U.S. envoys urged Yasser Arafat to take harsh measures against Islamic militants in meetings and a phone call hours before a suicide bomber detonated explosives yesterday outside a Jerusalem hotel, further rattling terror-weary Israelis.
In Mr. Arafat's boldest move yet against militants, Palestinian police put Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin under house arrest late yesterday. Hamas has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks, including deadly weekend suicide bombings in Israel.
Palestinian security officials said Sheikh Yassin, a quadriplegic, was told he would be allowed no visitors, except for relatives, and that his telephone lines would be cut.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said he urged the Palestinian leader to arrest 36 suspected terrorist leaders, while other Israeli officials dismissed Mr. Arafat's arrests of 151 persons in recent days as a show.
Mr. Arafat countered that he was determined to break the terror networks in the Palestinian territories, but Israeli military strikes and sieges were making the job impossible.
"They have to cool down to give me the chance," he told ABC News.
Israel's air force struck Palestinian targets Monday and Tuesday, but there were no Israeli strikes yesterday in what Palestinian officials said was a lull aimed at allowing Mr. Arafat to act.
An early morning explosion outside a central Jerusalem hotel showed that his task was far from finished.
Jerusalem police Chief Mickey Levy said the bomber may have become nervous and detonated the explosives strapped to his body and packed with nails and bolts too early. The attacker died and two bystanders were lightly injured.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the blast a chilling reminder of a wave of weekend attacks that killed 25 persons in a statement faxed to the Associated Press.
The United States told Mr. Arafat he must crack down on such activity, Palestinian Cabinet Minister Nabil Shaath said.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Paul Patin said peace envoy Anthony Zinni spoke with Mr. Arafat by telephone Tuesday night. The Palestinian leader met shortly afterward with U.S. Consul Ronald Schlicher and Aaron Miller, another member of the Zinni delegation, Mr. Patin said.
"We are exerting 100 percent efforts to implement our commitments, and the Israelis are exerting 100 percent efforts to topple our efforts," Mr. Shaath said. "I wonder how they can ask the Palestinian policemen who are subject to Israeli raids by day to arrest Palestinian militants at night."
Mr. Peres said Mr. Arafat had made the same complaint to him.
Gen. Zinni met yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, resuming a peace mission stalled by the suicide attacks and Israeli retaliation. According to a statement from Mr. Sharon's office, Mr. Sharon said only international pressure would cause Mr. Arafat to change his policy of supporting terrorism.
Palestinian security officials said they now had 151 suspected militants in custody, including members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and a radical PLO faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which assassinated an Israeli Cabinet minister in October to avenge the killing of its leader by Israel.
Israel's attacks Monday and Tuesday were retaliation for the weekend Palestinian suicide bombings in Jerusalem and the northern port city of Haifa. As the strikes began, Mr. Sharon accused Mr. Arafat of supporting terrorism.
The Israeli attacks killed two Palestinians, injured more than 100, destroyed three of Mr. Arafat's helicopters and hit his West Bank headquarters just yards from the office where he was working. There were no strikes yesterday.

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