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Latest Bush Mideast Criticism Aimed at Palestinians


President Bush says Palestinian leaders must do more to stop terrorist attacks before they can expect negotiations with Israel.

Mr. Bush urged both sides to resume move toward the peace process.

President Bush says Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat must end the violence before there is any progress toward a U.S. peace plan drawn-up by former Senator George Mitchell.

"The Israelis have made it very clear that they will not negotiate under terrorist threat," he said. "And if Mr. Arafat is interested in having a dialogue that could conceivably lead to the Mitchell process, then I strongly urge him to urge the terrorists, the Palestinian terrorists, to stop the suicide bombings, to stop the incursions, to stop the threats. At the same time, we have worked very closely with [Israeli] Prime Minister Sharon to urge him to show restraint."

Israeli army officials Friday said they might have to permanently occupy a Palestinian-ruled area in the divided West Bank city of Hebron, if attacks on Jewish settlements there continue. Israeli forces moved into the area late Thursday, but pulled out after a heavy exchange of gunfire with Palestinians.

While President Bush said it takes two willing partners for peace in the Middle East, he clearly feels the Palestinians need to make the first step toward a resumption of talks. "Do we hear the Palestinians call for discussions? Of course we do. But my attitude is, if they are that interested in peaceful dialogue, they ought to do everything they can to stop the terrorist activity that has accelerated in recent months," he said.

Palestinians Friday failed to get a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for monitors to be sent to the Middle East. The Bush administration made it clear it would veto that resolution. Monitors are part of the U.S. Mitchell plan, but President Bush says they can only be deployed if both sides agree. Israel says there will be no monitors.

More than 700 people have been killed since this latest round of violence began last September.