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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 13:36 GMT
Israeli papers say Arafat at watershed
Car bomb in Jerusalem
No end in sight to the escalating violence
Israeli newspapers have roundly condemned Yasser Arafat in the wake of the weekend's bloody events, with many suggesting the Palestinian leader is facing the point of no return.

The right-of-centre Jerusalem Post says in an editorial that the lesson of the weekend is the same as that of the 11 September attacks: "Terrorism cannot be talked out or wished away, but must be wiped out".

The time has come to present Arafat with a "Taleban-like ultimatum".

Yasser Arafat
Israel is blaming the Palestinian leader for failing to halt the killings
"The US is not in a diplomatic mode with respect to Islamism; it recognizes that it is at war and Islamism must be defeated," the paper says.

"Accordingly, the Taleban were given an ultimatum - either give up Osama bin Laden or give up power. The Palestinian Authority must be given a similar ultimatum with respect to Hamas and Islamic Jihad," it says.

'Bloody hands'

A commentary in the left-of-centre Ha'aretz says that, no matter whether Hamas or Islamic Jihad officially claimed responsibility for the attacks, "it is Arafat's hands that are bloody".

"He is responsible, both because he knows who is responsible and because of his encouragement of the bloodletting of Israelis as part of a strategy of winning a state 'through blood and fire'", it says.

A "watershed moment" has been reached when Israel needs to present Arafat with an ultimatum: "Either you take matters into your own hands... or we'll do it for you."

The centrist Yedi'ot Aharonot also lays the blame at Arafat's door, saying the Palestinian leader has made "impressive declarations rejecting terrorism but does nothing to stop this madness".

It was now time for the Palestinians to get the message that "unless they expunge terrorism, they will pay a much higher price".

"Even if we are forced to explain it to them the hard way".

Note of caution

There are some cautionary voices however, with an editorial in Ha'aretz warning that "careful calculation" of Israel's response is needed.

While the strong condemnation of the attacks from abroad could "put wind in the sails of those who favour toppling the PA", the government should not "allow hot tempers to dictate action", the paper says.

Ariel Sharon
How far will Israel go in retaliation for the bombings?
"Israel's conduct should instead be determined by its best interests. Many operations in the past embroiled Israel in much greater problems, beginning with the feeling that Israel could not ignore the terrorist attack that preceded the operation," it adds.

Arab fears

Arab newspapers, for their part, urge the US to continue with its peace efforts but fear that Israel will now be given a "free hand" to act against the Palestinians.

The independent Jordanian newspaper, Al-Arab al-Yawm, says the US would be "mistaken" to turn a blind eye to Israeli retaliation.

It said it was possible Sharon would "exploit the US green light to carry out very dangerous political plans", such as targeting Arafat personally or the Palestinian Authority.

Israel should be stopped in its tracks before this by-now-familiar pattern completes its bloody circuit.

Riyadh Daily
"In such a case, the political solution to the Palestine question would be buried and the whole region would be pushed into the unknown... and the expansion of the circle of violence".

Saudi Arabia's pro-government Riyadh Daily says Israel's expected retaliation will be met with little condemnation from the West and, "thus emboldened, Israel would unleash its forces on the Palestinians all over again".

"Israel should be stopped in its tracks before this by-now-familiar pattern completes its bloody circuit".

The Jedda Arab News calls on the US to continue its peace efforts, describing the killing of civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli, as "deplorable".

But it also says the "conditions that lead people to commit such acts" should also be condemned.

"The occupation that has lasted for over 50 years is the original sin", the paper asserts.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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