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PNA: US Giving Free Hand to Israeli Assassinations

PNA Concerned US Giving Free Hand to Israeli Assassinations

The Palestine National Authority (PNA) expressed concern on Friday that the United States was giving a free hand to the Israeli extra-judicial assassinations against suspected Palestinian operatives and activists against the 36-year-old Israeli occupation.

“It is not acceptable to put pressure only on the Palestinian side because the Israelis are continuing their escalation and aggression,” President Yasser Arafat’s media adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh told AFP.

“We are asking the United States to put pressure on the Israeli government” to halt its attacks, he added.

Statements by senior US officials Thursday singled out the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas” as the main culprit in the bloodshed that has left more than 60 people dead since the US-Palestinian-Israeli peace summit meeting in Jordan’s Aqaba port city on June 4.

“We need international intervention immediately to stop the Israeli escalation and aggression,” Abu Rudeineh said. He added that the “next 48 hours will be very critical” to prospects for salvaging the peace process, but did not elaborate.

The United States reprimanded Israel for a helicopter raid on Tuesday aimed at blowing up the senior Hamas political leader Abdul-Aziz Al-Rantisi. But it noticeably changed its tone after a Hamas operative blew himselp up, killing 17 Israelis on a Jerusalem bus the following day.

In coordinated statements, White House and State Department officials tried to shift the diplomatic focus from Israeli actions to the commitment made by Arab leaders at a summit last week in Egypt to cut off funding and support for what they termed as “terrorist” attacks against Israelis, the Washington Post reported.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made that point in a round of phone calls to Arab foreign ministers, officials said.

“We have to get moving and bring the terror down,” Powell said Thursday. “All of our efforts are focused on Hamas and persuading Hamas and Islamic Jihad and other terror organizations that this is the time to abandon terror.”

“It’s clear what we want: Hamas to stop it, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa brigades, all of them to stop it and both sides meet the obligations they have under the roadmap that they made at the Aqaba summit,” he said.

However, Powell said on Friday the United States was anxious to see “restraint” from Israel in retaliating against Palestinian attacks and stressed that “terror” against Israelis must stop.

“We all are anxious to see restraint and we understand that it's important to get the terror down,” he said. “If the terror goes down, then the response to terror will no longer be required, so we have to get moving and bring the terror down.”

The Post also quoted the White House spokesman Ari Fleischer as saying, “The issue is not Israel. The issue is not the Palestinian Authority.” The issue is “terrorists who are killing in an attempt to stop a hopeful process from moving forward.”

US President George W. Bush on Tuesday had pronounced himself “deeply troubled” by an Israeli helicopter attack on a Hamas leader but US officials abruptly changed their tone after the suicide attack a day later, avoiding any public call for Israeli restraint.

Israel on Friday pledged a “war to the bitter end” against Hamas and announced an all-out war against the Islamic movement and promised to “wipe it out” from the “lowest member” to its spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.

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