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Sunday, 2 December, 2001, 17:19 GMT
Leaders condemn Israel bomb attacks
Haifa bus wreckage
Yasser Arafat is under strong pressure to stop further attacks
The latest wave of bombs in Israel, which have left at least 26 people dead and wounded hundreds, have sparked widespread international condemnation.


This is the moment that advocates of peace in the Middle East must rise up and fight terror

President Bush
US President George W Bush, ahead of talks with Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Washington, described the attacks as "horrific acts of murder" and said terror should not be allowed to destroy the chance of peace in the Middle East.

"This is the moment that advocates of peace in the Middle East must rise up and fight terror," he said.

But the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, went further, appearing to endorse Israel's policy of targeted assassinations of individuals considered a threat to its people.

"The only way to defend against terrorists is to go after the terrorists," he said, adding that the balance had changed in the region after the attacks.

Call to Arafat

Mr Bush's sentiments were echoed by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and leaders from Russia, France, Egypt, the EU, and the Pope.

George W Bush
Mr Bush described the attacks as unjustifiable
Mr Bush urged Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to do "everything in his power" to bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice.

"Now more than ever, Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian authority must demonstrate through their actions and not merely their words their commitment to fight terror," he said.

But for Israeli hard-liners this is not enough, cabinet minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Mr Arafat himself should be expelled from the region.

"Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority do not do anything about the fight against terrorism, and it's obvious that we will have to take this fight into our own hands," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan described the suicide bombings as "acts of terrorism" and demanded "immediate and decisive action" from Mr Arafat to bring the culprits to justice.

Palestinian condemnation

In a statement, the Palestinian Authority condemned the terror attacks, and accused the culprits of trying to derail the US peace initiative.

An adviser to Mr Arafat, Saeb Erekat, said that the only way to break the cycle of violence was for peace talks to resume.


In these circumstances, the concerned parties should avoid violent and angry reactions that only lead to more bloodshed

Jordanian government spokesman

"We need to be engaged immediately in order to save the lives of Israelis and Palestinians alike," he said.

The US envoy to the Middle East, Anthony Zinni, said he had told Mr Arafat that imperative that those responsible for the bombing are brought to justice.

"There can be no delay nor excuses for not acting," he said.

Need for dialogue

France's Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, condemned the attacks but said that the search for peace must continue.

"These efforts must be continued without a break and France remains ready to do what it can to contribute to their success," he said.

Yasser Arafat
Mr Arafat is being urged to arrest those responsible

Speaking to the BBC, UK Foreign Office Minister Ben Bradshaw described the attacks as "deliberate acts aimed to derail attempts to get the peace process back on track".

The Palestinian leadership should do more to apprehend those responsible and Israel should give the Palestinians more hope that talks could restart, he added.

European Commission President Romano Prodi described the attacks as "odious" and also stressed the urgent need for dialogue.

Italy's foreign minister, Renato Ruggiero, pressed Palestinian authorities to punish those responsible and Pope John Paul II expressed sorrow and worry over the news of the attacks.

Mr Ruggiero expressed hope that "these abominable, bloody deeds do not fuel a new spiral of clashes."

Calls for restraint

In Russia, a co-sponsor of the collapsed Palestinian-Israeli peace process, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry called on the Palestinian Authority to arrest and bring to trial those responsible for terrorism.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak deplored the bombings and called for an end to the cycle of military action and reprisals.

"It is everyone's responsibility to respond to the visions of the international community, which aims to achieve security and stability for both the Israeli and Palestinian people," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tom Carver
"America's peace process has been blown away"
President George W Bush
"Advocates of peace in the Middle East must rise up and fight terror"

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