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Bush Condemns Jerusalem Bombings - 2001-12-02

President Bush has "strongly condemned" the bombings in Jerusalem calling on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to immediately find and arrest those responsible. The President is meeting Sunday with Israeli's Prime Minister.

President Bush said he was "horrified and saddened" to learn of the bombings in a Jerusalem mall. In a written statement, Mr. Bush said he "strongly condemns" the attacks as "acts of murder that no person of conscience can tolerate and no cause can ever justify."

The President said Mr. Arafat must immediately find and arrest those responsible for what Mr. Bush called "these hideous murders." He said Palestinian authorities "must also act swiftly and decisively against the organizations that support them."

"Now more than ever," the President said, "Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority must demonstrate through their actions, not merely their words, their commitment to fight terror."

President Bush was due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday. That meeting has been moved up to Sunday after which Mr. Sharon will return to Israel. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said President Bush called Prime Minister Sharon in New York Saturday evening to offer his condolences and say he looks forward to meeting with him at the White House Sunday.

The suicide bombings are sure to increase pressure on Mr. Arafat to act against those responsible for a continuing wave of violence. Israeli government spokesman Avi Pasner said Mr. Arafat "bears direct responsibility for what happened" in Jerusalem.

The attack came as retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni is trying to secure a cease-fire in the Middle East. Since General Zinni's arrival on Monday, there has been an upsurge in violence, especially by Palestinian militants.

General Zinni says he will not be deterred by the violence and will stay in the region as long as it takes. The Bush Administration says it continues to be involved in the Middle East peace process despite its attention on the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

President Bush wants both sides to agree to a peace plan drawn up by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell which calls for a "cooling-off" period ahead of talks on an independent Palestinian state.