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Bush Urges Arafat to Stop Palestinian Attacks on Israelis - 2002-03-30

President Bush said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat must do more to stop attacks against Israeli civilians. As fighting continues inside Palestinian-controled territories, Mr. Bush said he understands Israel's need to defend itself but hopes Israeli leaders continue to pursue peace.

President Bush said Mr. Arafat must do more to prevent attacks such as Saturday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. He said he is disappointed the Palestinian leaders is not making what he calls "100 percent" effort to fight terrorism.

Speaking to reporters at his Texas ranch, Mr. Bush said Chairman Arafat has "got to speak up, got to make it absolutely clear" that the Palestinian Authority does not support terrorist attacks and will use its security forces to stop them.

With Israeli tanks inside Mr. Arafat's compound, President Bush said he has received assurances from Israel that the Palestinian leader will not be harmed. Mr. Bush said he respects and "fully understands" Israel's need to defend itself, but as it does so, he said he is urging Isreali leaders to make sure there is a path toward peace.

The president is keeping special envoy Anthony Zinni in the Middle East to continue to work toward an Israeli/Palestinian cease-fire. In a series of telephone calls to Arab leaders Saturday, Mr. Bush said fighting will not stall General Zinni's mission to pursue peace.

The president said he thanked Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah ben Abdul Aziz for his speech at last week's Arab League summit in Beiruit which adopted the Saudi leader's peace plan to exchange Arab recognition of Israel for Israel giving up land won during the 1967 war.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he and Mr. Bush agreed on the need for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian-controlled areas. He told Egyptian television that he asked the U.S. leader to intervene with Israel to lift its seige on Mr. Arafat's compound.

Mr. Bush also spoke Saturday with the leaders of Jordan and Spain as well as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal and for both sides to move immediately toward a cease-fire. The United States voted for the measure, which passed 14-0 with Syria abstaining from the vote because it said the language was not strong enough against Israel.

Israel criticized the document for not coming down harder on suicide bombings, saying the Security Council has handed a "prize" to Palestinian terrorists.

The resolution expresses grave concern over the sucide bombings and the Israeli attack on the Arafat compound. It calls on both sides to cooperate with General Zinni who is trying to get them to agree to a security arrangement drawn up by CIA director George Tenet.

The Bush Administration had been optimistic about those efforts before a seires of suicide bombings and shooting attacks against Israelis killed more than 30 people in three days. Israel responded with a military operation that included attacks on Mr. Arafat's compound.