- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 24, 2002

From combined dispatches
President Bush said Saturday that Yasser Arafat has not done enough to fight terrorism and Vice President Dick Cheney won't return to the Middle East to meet with the Palestinian leader until Arafat performs.
"There's been no question that the United States has stood strong with Israel and we've made it clear to Mr. Arafat that he is not doing all he can do to fight off terror," Bush said at a news conference in Lima, Peru, part of a four-day Latin American tour.
A meeting of Israeli and Palestinian security officials on Sunday will help determine whether Cheney goes to Egypt this week for talks with Arafat. The meeting also will figure in U.S. envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni's decision on whether Arafat has accepted U.S. conditions for a cease-fire and will work to implement them.
The violence in the Middle East continued as Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians who attacked an army post with grenades yesterday, and militant Islamic groups said they would ignore any truce deal, complicating U.S. efforts to arrange a cease-fire.
Amid the ongoing turbulence, Gen. Zinni planned to mediate another round of cease-fire talks today. Gen. Zinni has been meeting with both sides for the past 10 days on a U.S. truce plan which both Israelis and Palestinians have endorsed in principle.
Gen. Zinni "shows a serious determination to reach a solution within the coming two days, and we hope he will succeed in doing it," said Abdel Razak Majaida, the Palestinian chief of public security in the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Bush said Gen. Zinni was "trying to determine whether or not [Mr. Arafat] is going to do what he said he would do."
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that Mr. Bush was receiving updates from Gen. Zinni and reiterated that no Cheney-Arafat meeting was possible unless U.S. conditions were met.
Among the conditions, she said: "The Palestinian Authority needs to think that terrorism is not a part of its arsenal in dealing with Israel."
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on its Web site yesterday that U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials have concluded that Mr. Arafat has forged a new alliance with Iran in which Iran will ship heavy weapons and millions of dollars to Palestinian groups waging guerrilla war against Israel.
The partnership was arranged in a clandestine meeting in Moscow last May between two top aides to Mr. Arafat and Iranian government officials, the newspaper quoted officials as saying. The meeting took place while Mr. Arafat was visiting President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the report said.
Despite optimistic forecasts for a cease-fire, the Israelis and Palestinians disagree on the timetable for implementing the truce plan, with each insisting the other take the first key steps. And the persistent violence keeps threatening to torpedo the negotiations.
In the northern Gaza Strip, the two Palestinians tossed grenades as they tried to storm a military outpost, but they were shot and killed by Israeli troops, the army said. The attack took place near the Jewish settlement of Dugit.
In the nearby Jebalya refugee camp, mosque loudspeakers said the two men belonged to the militant group Hamas and were "killed in an honorable fight with the enemy."
According to Palestinians, a third Palestinian schoolteacher Subhu Abu Manus was killed by shrapnel from an Israeli tank shell in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Witnesses said the tank fired following stone-throwing by Palestinian youths. However, the Israeli army said it did not fire any tank shells in the area.
Also in Gaza, a 4-year-old Palestinian girl died two days after being shot in the head, hospital officials said. Her family said she was playing outside her home in Rafah refugee camp when Israeli troops stationed along the Israeli-Egyptian border fired on the camp. The army said it was not aware of the incident.
Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the two militant Islamic groups that have carried out most of the suicide attacks, said they would not abide by any cease-fire agreement.
Islamic Jihad spiritual leader Sheik Abdullah Shami called on the Palestinian Authority to "stay in the trenches of resistance, because there is no way to end the occupation other than struggle."
Hamas spokesman Ismail Abu Shanab said Israel could not be trusted to observe a cease-fire. "They didn't respect any cease-fire declarations [previously]. We are not going to repeat that with them," Mr. Abu Shanab said.
In another development, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Mr. Arafat should be allowed to attend an Arab summit that begins this week in Beirut.
Mr. Arafat has not left the West Bank town of Ramallah for nearly four months because of restrictions Israel has placed on his travel.
If Mr. Arafat is not allowed to go, "the Beirut summit will become the Ramallah summit, with all eyes focused there," Mr. Peres said in an interview with Israeli television.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said Mr. Arafat could leave the West Bank only if U.S.-led talks produced a cease-fire to end 18 months of bloodshed that has killed almost 1,500 people.
In Ramallah, Palestinian officials said Mr. Arafat plans to go to the Arab summit snd will make a stopover in Cairo to see Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before flying on to Beirut.
U.S. officials are believed to be keen on Mr. Arafat attending the March 27-28 summit to help give momentum to a Saudi plan for Middle East peace slated to be addressed there.
An Israeli security source said that in talks with Mr. Cheney last week, Mr. Sharon had proposed he go to Beirut himself to present Israeli views on the Saudi plan.
But Mr. Sharon is unlikely to be welcome in Beirut, where he is reviled for masterminding Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
The Saudi plan calls for an Israeli withdrawal from all Arab land taken in the 1967 Middle East war in exchange for full normalization of Arab ties with Israel.


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