President George W. Bush condemned suicide bomber attacks in Israel as acts of murder and said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat must move quickly to arrest those responsible.
The president telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was in New York City at the time, to express his condolences and advanced their White House meeting from tomorrow to today so Sharon could quickly return to Israel to deal with the deepening crisis.
"Now more than ever, Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority must demonstrate through their actions, and not merely their words, their commitment to fight terror," Bush said in a statement issued from the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.
He called on Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to "immediately find and arrest" those responsible and said Arafat must act "swiftly and decisively" against the organizations that support the terrorists.
Secretary of State Colin Powell and a special US envoy in the Mideast quickly relayed Bush's message of condemnation directly to Arafat.
"I have spoken with Chairman Arafat and have made absolutely clear that these despicable and cowardly actions must be brought to an end through immediate, comprehensive and sustained action by the Palestinian Authority by both the individuals responsible and the infrastructure of the groups that support them," Powell said.
US envoy Anthony Zinni said in a statement in Jerusalem that he had spoken to Arafat and "made absolutely clear that those responsible for planning and carrying out these attacks must be found and brought to justice."
The latest attacks came at a time when Zinni is trying to secure a cease-fire. However, since Zinni's arrival on Monday, there has been an upsurge in violence, especially by Palestinian militants trying to derail his mission.Reuse content