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Cheney: Arafat Hinders Palestinian Cause

Vice-President Dick Cheney says Yasser Arafat's response to the recent suicide bombings in Israel has hurt the cause of Palestinian statehood. Top Bush administration officials are keeping pressure on Yasser Arafat to take strong action against Palestinian militant groups.

Mr. Cheney says there is no doubt in his mind that inaction on the part of Yasser Arafat has set back the peace process and the creation of a Palestinian state. The vice-president said, "The fact of the matter is, until Arafat demonstrates that he is serious about controlling suicide attackers from Palestinian territory against the Israelis, there is not going to be any progress."

The Vice-President told the NBC television news program Meet the Press that the suicide bombers are not just attacking Israel, they are targeting hopes of peace for all in the region. He said, "The people who are suffering most, of course, are in fact the Palestinian people who are led by somebody in this particular case who is unwilling or unable to deal with the homegrown terrorists."

A few hours earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell challenged Yasser Arafat to show he is capable of leading the Palestinian people.

Mr. Powell told reporters during a flight from Kazakhstan to Moscow, that Mr. Arafat should do more to end the violence. He made specific mention of the need for action against the Islamic militant group Hamas.