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US Strongly Condemns Hedera Terrorist Attack - 2002-01-18

The Bush administration is condemning the terrorist attack in the Israeli town of Hadera "in the strongest possible terms" and it is calling on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to immediately act against those responsible. The attack is another setback for U.S. efforts to implement a permanent Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire.

The administration reacted sharply, with State Department spokesman Philip Reeker calling the attack on the Israeli wedding hall "vicious" and "horrific."

He said there can be no tolerance for those who would act against the interests of the Palestinian people. He said Mr. Arafat must take immediate action against those responsible, and as he put it "confront the infrastructure that perpetuates terror and violence."

The Hadera incident, for which Israel promised retaliation, dealt a new blow to the effort by U.S. mediator Anthony Zinni to get an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire.

In Washington for consultations, the former Marine general had been expected to return to the region this week.

But officials now say there will be no decision on further travel until Mr. Zinni has spoken to Secretary of State Colin Powell after his return from Asia next Monday.

The Hadera attack occurred as the Israel's military chief of staff General Shaul Mofaz was holding talks with administration officials including Bush national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.