PM: Peace process will die if Arafat maintains influence in PA
Defense Min. Mofaz: PA must dismantle terror infrastructure for peace process to continue.
The peace process will die if the Palestinian Authority does not remove Yasser Arafat from all positions of influence, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview published Wednesday in the French daily Le Figaro, Israel Radio reported. Sharon also called for cutting Arafat off from having any say over the PA's finances.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz also had harsh words for Arafat on Wednesday, saying that the PA Chairman was doing everything in his power to undermine current peace efforts and that Israel would not continue with these efforts unless the PA dismantles terrorist organizations, Israel Radio reported.
"I won't be surprised if Arafat is behind the terror attacks in recent days," Mofaz said Wednesday in reference to separate suicide bombings in Rosh Ha'ayin and Ariel, which killed two Israelis. "He is doing all he can to torpedo the (peace) process and Abu Mazen's leadership. We will not continue the diplomatic process and it cannot advance without solving the problem of the terror infrastructure. The Palestinians must fight the terror infrastructure and dismantle it for the (peace) process to continue."
Mofaz made the comments duirng a visit to the northern border town of Shlomi, where an Israeli teen was killed by shrapnel from Hezbollah artillery on Sunday.
Also Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharon held security consultations Wednesday with Defense Minister Mofaz and the heads of the defense establishment regarding the two suicide bombings carried out in Rosh Ha'ayin and Ariel.
It was decided that Israel will stress to the U.S. and PA that it will not advance to the next stage of the road map until the terror infrastructure is dismantled.
It was also decided that Israel will not take steps against the Palestinian population that could lead to escapation or crisis.
Tuesday's bombings prompted Sharon to halt a prisoner release that was already underway the same day. A well-informed source in Jerusalem said that the defense establishment would erect more roadblocks in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and would make the passage of Palestinian workers into Israel more difficult.
Sharon accused his Palestinian counterpart Tuesday evening of not doing enough to clamp down on terrorists, and thereby allowing two Nablus teenagers to carry out Tuesday's suicide bombings.
Speaking to a group of several hundred Jewish youths from overseas, Sharon said that Abbas had reneged on his commitment to act against the terror groups operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"Israel won't be able to continue the [peace] process, despite its strong desire, if terrorism does not cease completely and the Palestinian Authority does not fulfill all its commitments," said Sharon. "Israel will continue to strike at terrorists if the PA does not," he added.
Burns: Suicide bombings that undermine road map
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns said on Wednesday the Palestinian Authority should foil suicide bombings that undermine Washington's backing for the creation of a Palestinian state under a new peace plan.
Two Palestinian suicide bombers from Nablus killed two Israelis in back-to-back attacks on Tuesday in what their militant factions said were acts of revenge for an army raid in Nablus that killed two wanted Hamas men in the West Bank city.
"For Palestinians its seems to us it is especially important to ensure there is only one authority and that law and order is maintained by that authority and that those who would engage in acts of terror and violence are stopped," Burns told reporters after meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Amman.
Abbas told Jordan Television he had told Burns "the security situation had become difficult" but Israel's continued raids into Palestinian cities in search of militants provoked attacks.
Burns said Palestinians were the losers by resorting to suicide attacks that jarred a cease-fire which Abbas coaxed militant groups into declaring at the end of June.
"Those actions have done more than anything else to undermine the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians for the sovereign, viable, independent state that they deserve and President Bush is determined to work to achieve," he said.
Burns told Abbas during the one hour meeting that U.S. President George W. Bush remained committed to the road map, which charts a path to Palestinian independence in occupied West Bank and Gaza territory by 2005.
"I stressed to him (Abbas) President Bush's very firm personal determination to move ahead to implement the road map to realize the promise (of a Palestinian state)," he said.
"None of us have any illusions this is a very difficult process, both sides, Israelis as well as Palestinians, have obligations if we are going to move forward in the interests of both peoples," Burns added.
Abbas, who arrived in Amman on Tuesday from Qatar after a tour of Gulf states, was due to go later on Wednesday to Tunis to continue a mission to lobby for Arab support, officials said.
Burns was due to fly to Israel later Wednesday for meetings with senior Israeli officials in a bid to clear hurdles impeding the implementation of the roadmap.