Arafat under pressure

Israel has provided a list of 36 suspects accused of being involved in the latest wave of suicide bombings which have caused around 35 deaths and 200 injuries to Israelis. The recent military incursions against the Palestine Authority have been suspended “indefinitely” to give Yasser Arafat the time he needs to react.

Yarden Vatikay, spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Office, declared that this time limit was “to see if Arafat takes the demands of the outside world seriously”, a sign that Tel Aviv is sceptical as to the determination of the President of the Palestine Authority to clamp down on terrorists.

The suspension of the attacks by the Israeli Armed Forces comes after the Palestine Authority asked Tel Aviv to allow its agents to circulate freely, otherwise they would be unable to arrest the suspects. Israel had spent two days strafing Palestine Authority security positions after the weekend suicide bombings.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said that “Arafat telephoned me and told me he wanted to take control of the situation, complaining that we were not making it possible for him”.

Abroad, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has accused Yasser Arafat of not translating “good intentions” into results, a position echoed by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who declared that Arafat’s attempts to bring a halt to the violence had “not produced results”.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian extremist organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad have vowed to keep up the current wave of suicide bombings, claiming that there is no shortage of young volunteers. In an interview published by the Spanish daily ABC, Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassine declared that “It is very easy” to achieve peace in the region. “If there is an end to the occupation (of Palestinian lands), the shots will stop. Automatically.”


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