The United States has appealed to Arab allies to
persuade the Palestinian Authority and Islamic insurgency groups to resume a
truce with Israel.
U.S. officials said Secretary of State Colin Powell has been in contact
with leaders in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in an effort to pressure the
Palestinian insurgency groups to renew their commitment to a truce with
Israel. The insurgency groups have declared an end to a planned three-month
ceasefire and pledged to renew attacks against Israel.
Officials said Powell has been alarmed by the prospect that the Abbas
government will collapse amid fear to confront Islamic insurgency groups, Middle East Newsline reported.
They said Abbas and PA Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan have said
they cannot act against Hamas and Jihad without the participation of the
security services directly led by Arafat.
"I call on members of the international community and members of the
Arab nations to step up now and insist that the terror perpetrated by
organizations such as Hamas must come to an end," Powell said on Thursday.
The appeal came in wake of a Hamas suicide strike that killed 19
passengers aboard an Israeli bus in Jerusalem on late Tuesday. Israel
responded by assassinating a Hamas leader.
Officials said Bush administration has also asked Arab allies to press
PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to crack down on
insurgency groups. They said both men have refused to implement their pledge
to raid insurgency strongholds in the Gaza Strip.
On late Thursday, Arafat received a telephone call from Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak was said to have ordered his aide, Osama El
Baz, to Israel and the PA as part of efforts to end the latest escalation in
For the last year, Egypt has been holding talks with Palestinian
insurgency groups to achieve a truce in the nearly three-year war with
Israel. Saudi Arabia has been identified as a leading supporter of Hamas.
Jordan has helped train PA security forces.
Powell appealed to Arafat to cooperate with Abbas in any confrontation
with Hamas and Jihad. The appeal came after more than a year of a U.S.
policy to boycott the PA chairman.
"I call on Chairman Arafat," Powell said, "to work with Prime Minister
Abbas and to make available to Prime Minister Abbas those security elements
that are under his control so that they can allow progress to be made on the
terror, end this violence that just results in the further repetition of the
cycle that we've seen so often."
Officials said Powell's appeal to the PA chairman was also meant as a
warning to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that the Bush
administration was prepared to resume cooperation with Arafat to prevent a
collapse of U.S. plans to establish a Palestinian state with interim borders
by the end of the year. They said Arafat has gained renewed importance amid
the prospect that Abbas and his government might resign.
"Israel has a right to defend herself," White House spokesman Scott
McClellan said. "But they need to take into account the effect of their