US ignores the world and blames Palestinian Muslims

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 1 Apr 2002 11:06:31 +0100

Amid a wave of international concern over Israel's ongoing siege of
Yasser Arafat, the United States again condemned the latest Palestinian
suicide bombings yesterday and said Mr Arafat could do more to stop such
attacks. 

Several world leaders made direct appeals to Israel, asking it to show
restraint and to ensure Mr Arafat's safety. The foreign ministers of
China and Japan, and Morocco's King Mohammed called either the Israeli
Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, or the Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, to
voice concern. France, Germany, Turkey and Arab states also urged
restraint. 

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has called on Mr Sharon to pull back
his tanks from Mr Arafat's headquarters. Mr Straw tried to speak to Mr
Arafat by telephone but the line went dead. He hopes to speak soon to
Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, about the siege. 

The Speaker of Greece's parliament accused Israel yesterday of
committing "genocide". 

Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates all made diplomatic
appeals, and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia contacted the US to
voice his concerns. 

Germany's Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, said in a statement: "The
military confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians is cause for
great concern. It holds the danger of a destabilisation of the entire
region. The German government urgently appeals to the Israeli side to
guarantee Palestinian President Arafat will not be harmed." 

Amid such growing concern over Israel's siege of Mr Arafat's compound in
Ramallah, the US has stood almost alone – backing Mr Sharon's right to
defend his country. 

On Saturday – with Mr Arafat still trapped and with his communications
under threat – President George Bush told reporters at his ranch in
Crawford, Texas, that the Palestinian leader could, and should, do more
to prevent suicide attacks, including the most recent in Tel Aviv. 

Yesterday, a senior official repeated Mr Bush's assertion. "We condemn
these terrorist attacks," the official said. 

"Chairman Arafat knows what he needs to do. President Bush was very
clear about that yesterday and in previous days and our heartfelt
sympathies and condolences go out to the victims and the families of the
victims of these brutal attacks." 

Washington's refusal to express anything other than "grave concern"
about the situation in Ramallah underlines the difficulty which the Bush
administration faces in addressing the problem of the Middle East, while
also prosecuting its so-called war on terror. 

When Mr Bush came to office last year, it was immediately made clear
that the United States would play a much-reduced role in trying to
achieve a peaceful settlement in the region and that the President would
not expend the sort of personal and political capital that the previous
president, Bill Clinton, had. A series of initiatives aimed at
attempting to bring both sides together was terminated. 

The attacks of 11 September have made criticism of Israel more difficult
for Mr Bush – even if he wished to indulge in such activity. In the
aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington, Mr Sharon visited
Mr Bush, and argued the Palestinian suicide bombers were no different to
those who had attacked the US. It was an argument which the US did not
seek to counter. 

While Mr Bush last year became the first US President to use the word
"Palestine" in terms of an independent state, his administration's
dealings with the two sides remain unbalanced. Though Mr Arafat has
repeatedly condemned the spate of suicide bombings, Mr Bush has refused
to meet the Palestinian leader until he makes a public call in Arabic
for the suicide bombings to end and to arrest those involved in the
attacks. 

Source:  The Independent

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