- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2002

JERUSALEM A Palestinian woman set off a bomb at one of Jerusalem's busiest intersections yesterday, killing herself, one Israeli and wounding scores in the third attack on a major metropolis in less than a week.
The bombing, in the same corner of Jerusalem where Palestinians have killed more than 20 Israelis in the past six months, prompted the United States to heap more criticism on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Yesterday's attack left an 81-year-old man dead and at least 18 persons hospitalized in serious or moderate condition.
One of the wounded was Mark Sokolow, a 43-year-old American who also survived the September 11 terror assault on the World Trade Center in New York.
Police in Israel said it wasn't clear if the woman was a suicide bomber or had meant to leave explosives at the intersection and flee the scene.
If she deliberately blew herself up, it would mark the first time a woman has gone on a suicide killing mission since Palestinians began waging such attacks eight years ago.
"This could force us to reassess our profiling techniques for screening out suicide bombers," said a Jerusalem police lieutenant.
The midday explosion rocked downtown and scattered burning body parts across the pavement. Storefronts along an entire city block were blown out.
Palestinians condemned the attack, but Israel blamed Mr. Arafat.
"Arafat is encouraging terrorism he's sending [attackers] to Jerusalem," said Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "We will continue to systematically dismantle the terrorist infrastructure."
Israel has long held Mr. Arafat accountable for attacks, even when responsibility is claimed by Hamas and other militant Islamic groups outside the Palestinian leader's control.
But the United States lately has begun labeling Mr. Arafat as the culprit as well, in what Israeli analysts read as a shift in Washington's attitude toward the Palestinian leader in the past month.
The analysts say a turning point was Israel's seizure earlier this month of an arms-laden ship bound for Gaza that the United States now believes Mr. Arafat was involved in procuring from Iran a country Washington recognizes as a leading promoter of terrorism.
"We have been deeply disappointed by his [Arafats] inability or his unwillingness to control the terrorist threat launching from Palestine against Israeli civilians," Vice President Richard B. Cheney said on ABC's "This Week" program yesterday.
While the administration has stopped short of cutting contacts with the Palestinian leader, it has suspended a mediation mission by a top Middle East troubleshooter and weighed such measures as putting Mr. Arafat's security agencies on the American list of terrorist organizations.
"My impression is that Washington's diplomacy with Arafat has come to an end," said Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri of Jerusalem's Hebrew University. "I think the United States no longer views Arafat as a leader who can do something productive," he said.
Since the outbreak of fighting with Israel 16 months ago, the United States consistently has urged Mr. Arafat to arrest militants and crack down on Islamic groups. But the rhetoric often was balanced with criticism of Israel's military measures against Palestinians, especially since Mr. Sharon was elected nearly a year ago.
In recent weeks, censuring of the Palestinian side has surged in intensity and become more focused at Mr. Arafat, who has condemned attacks against Israel but is accused by the Jewish state of orchestrating them or, at best, turning a blind eye.
Mr. Arafat declared a unilateral cease-fire last month that caused a sharp decline in violence for more than three weeks. But Israel cited the arms shipment as proof Mr. Arafat is girding for the next round of fighting. Israel continued targeting militants drawing Palestinians into a cycle of violence.
Mr. Cheney said the United States found it "especially disturbing" that Mr. Arafat, besides attempting to acquire weapons being used by the suicide bombers, had sought out Iran.
"It also in effect has the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat and key people around him working now with Iran … and the Hezbollah, which is also clearly one of the world's foremost terrorist organizations devoted to ending the peace process," Mr. Cheney told ABC's "This Week."
"So it raises serious questions about whether or not Mr. Arafat is in fact really interested in moving forward in the peace process," he said.
Palestinians deflected the criticism yesterday and said the United States was making a mistake by not sending Anthony Zinni, the special Middle East envoy, to the region immediately.
But attempts by the Palestinian leaders to shake off responsibility are marred by each new bombing and shooting.
Mr. Sokolow, the American who survived the attack on the World Trade Center, said he came to Israel from Woodmere, Long Island, for vacation earlier this month with his family.
"I was obviously a lot luckier last time. This one involved my whole family," he said. His wife and daughters also were injured in the blast.

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