Bush urges Arafat to keep Hamas members in jail
U.S. President George W. Bush said Thursday Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat must arrest and jail Hamas members who carry out attacks on Israeli civilians.
Bush said he was pleased Arafat had spoken out against terrorism. "That's good. That's a positive development," he said. However, the American leader went on to say a key test of Arafat's intentions was whether he arrests “terrorists” and keeps them in jail.
"In order for there to be peace, we must rout out terror," Bush said at the White House. Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said the president considers what happens to the newly arrested suspects as "a very key test of whether the Palestinian Authority is dedicated to what they promised at Oslo, which is justice and is what the world should expect of a group of people who want to be leaders of a state that focuses on stability."
Bush denied that he had agreed with Israel to sideline Yasser Arafat but cautioned that "time will tell" whether the Palestinian leader is truly committed to peace.
Talk of such a deal is "not an accurate reflection of what went on in the Oval Office," where he met late Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the president told reporters firmly.
Bush's comments came in response to a question about reports citing Israeli officials as saying he had agreed to Sharon's push to marginalize Arafat, provided the Palestinian Authority chairman were neither hurt nor exiled.
"What is an accurate reflection of my opinion is that Mr. Arafat has let the Palestinian people down. He hasn't led. And as a result, the Palestinians suffer," the US leader emphasized. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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