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Bush: It's Arafat's Responsibility to Stop Terrorism - 2001-12-21

The militant Palestinian group Hamas Friday suspended suicide bombings and mortar attacks inside Israel. President Bush says Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat must stop all Palestinian violence before there is a return to peace talks.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the Hamas statement does not go far enough, that Palestinian authorities must put a stop to all violence across Israeli- and Palestinian-controled areas. "On the Hamas statement, the president believes that all terrorist activities everywhere must cease, and he believes that Chairman Arafat is the one who can make that happen and needs to take the action to stop terrorism," he said. "Hamas is a terrorist organization, and it's Chairman Arafat's responsibility as a leader in the region to stop the terrorism so peace can take hold."

A Hamas statement said it decided to suspend attacks "to preserve Palestinian unity." Earlier this week, Mr. Arafat's forces began arresting militants after he called for an end to all attacks against Israel. Israel Friday dismissed the Hamas promise as a tactical move to relieve international pressure on Palestinian militants.