Arafat calls for end to suicide bombings, armed activity against Israel

Sunday, December 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in a televised address Sunday, called for an end to suicide bombings against Israel and said all ``armed activity'' and ``terrorist activities'' by Palestinian militants must cease.

At the same time, Arafat said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had ``declared war'' on the Palestinian Authority and insisted that the Palestinians must have a state in the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as its capital.

In a speech to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, Arafat blamed Sharon for the surging Mideast violence, and said Palestinian attacks gave Sharon an excuse to escalate military actions.

There was no immediate reaction from Israel, which has dismissed Arafat's efforts against the militants to date, saying he has proven either unwilling or unable to crush the extremists.

Arafat spoke directly to the Israeli people, urging a resumption of peace talks. ``I would like to renew my call to the people of Israel ... to return immediately to the negotiating table,'' he said.

He called on fellow Palestinians to respect his calls for a cease-fire, which have in recently months proven ineffectual: ``We will not accept more than one Authority on this land... When you take a decision must be respected.''

``Today, I am reiterating my call for a comprehensive cessation to all the armed activities... I call for a complete stop to all activities, especially the suicide attacks that we condemn always,'' he said.

He added that Palestinian mortar attacks against Israel should also cease, saying Sharon was using these mortar attacks, most of which have targeted Jewish settlements, as excuses to hit the Palestinians.

Throughout his speech, Arafat said the Israelis were responsible for the current Mideast crisis. He said the Palestinians should observe a cease-fire, but did not explicitly call for an end to the 15-month-old Palestinian uprising.

``We declared the state of emergency and we have implemented a series of arrangements... including declaring illegal all forms which are committing terrorist activities,'' said Arafat, who was declared ``irrelevant'' by the Israeli Cabinet after a deadly Palestinian attack on an Israeli bus near a West Bank settlement last week.

``All have to respect this initiative. The Israelis do not respect it, and they don't want a cease-fire, but we are respecting our commitments,'' he said.

Arafat concluded the half-hour speech by saying, ``See you in Jerusalem.''