Arafat condemns Jerusalem ''terrorist'' attack; US calls to keep ''road-map'' alive
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat condemned Wednesday's Jerusalem bus bombing as well as a Israeli missile strike in Gaza City launched shortly afterwards.
"I strongly condemn this terrorist attack that targeted Israeli civilians today in Jerusalem," Arafat said in a televised address, in which he called for Israelis and Palestinians to cease all violence.
"I also strongly condemn the (Israeli) terrorist operations that took place in Gaza and other operations in which Palestinian civilians were killed and wounded," he said.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas called on Wednesday for Palestinian groups and Israel to halt all attacks and said immediate steps should be taken to implement a U.S.-backed peace plan.
"Stopping this deterioration necessitates that all parties should comply to a cease-fire and end violence and to start serious efforts to implement the road map," a statement from Abbas' office said.
U.S. President George W. Bush also condemned the bus bombing in Jerusalem and appealed to both sides to keep an American-backed peace initiative alive.
"I urge and call upon all of the free world, nations which love peace, to not only condemn the killings but to use every ounce of their power to prevent them from happening in the future," Bush said after the Jerusalem bombing.
On his part, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the administration's commitment to the peace process was unshaken. "This is the time for us to remain steadfast, to continue moving down the path that was laid out at Aqaba," Powell said.
"It is clear there are people in the Middle East who hate peace," said Bush. "To the people in the world who want to see peace in the Middle East, I strongly urge all of you to
fight off terror, to cut off money to organizations such as Hamas, to isolate those who hate so much that they're willing to kill to stop peace from going forward," he said.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said administration officials were delivering calls to halt violence and get back to talking directly to Israeli and Palestinian officials for a second straight day.
"What the president wants to see happen next is for the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority to get back to the business of peace, to get back to the business of (the) 'road map,'" Fleischer said.
Fleischer said it was important for the Israelis to realize "that their responsibilities are to focus on the road map" peace initiative, which he called "the only acceptable path ahead ... that builds trust, that is based on results, that focuses on the peace making responsibilities of both parties." (Albawaba.com)
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