Arafat condemns Jerusalem bombing, promises to end attacks

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Associated Press WriterRAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat condemned Thursday's suicide bombing in Jerusalem, promising to "put an end to such attacks" and work toward a cease-fire after 18 months of violence with Israel.

"We strongly condemn this military operation that took place in west Jerusalem today, especially since it was against innocent Israeli civilians," said a downcast Arafat, reading a statement at his desk beside a Palestinian flag. "We will take the appropriate and immediate measures to put an end to such attacks."

Thursday's suicide bombing, which killed two people and injured scores, was claimed by the Al Aqsa Brigades, a militia affiliated with Arafat's Fatah movement.

Arafat's statement fell short of the clear cease-fire call that the United States has demanded and which Israel has made a condition for lifting the travel ban on the Palestinian leader. That would enable him to attend next week's Arab summit in Beirut, Lebanon, at which Saudi Arabia is to table a regional peace plan.

Arafat promised, however, to work with U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni toward an agreement on implementing the detailed truce plan worked out last year by CIA director George Tenet -- as well as the longer-term recommendations of an international committee chaired by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell.

Truce talks planned for Thursday were put off after the Jerusalem attack.

"We will exert every possible effort to make the mission of Gen. Zinni a success ... and start implementing Tenet and Mitchell, to achieve a comprehensive just and lasting peace, to end the Israeli occupation and achieve peace and security and stability in the region," Arafat said.

Arafat repeated a call for sending international observers to the region to oversee any cease-fire.

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