from Israel National News
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said this morning that there would be no diplomatic progress unless the Palestinian Authority begins taking firm action against terrorism.
"The attack [on Friday night] was committed by Islamic Jihad," Sharon said in his introductory remarks at this morning's Cabinet meeting. "The orders were given by Islamic Jihad elements in Syria. We know this with certainty. But this fact does not at all exempt the Palestinian Authority from its responsibility for allowing the terrorist to leave on his mission, nor from its responsibility to take action against his accomplices. The PA's immediate test will be whether it takes firm action against the Islamic Jihad."Regarding the diplomatic front, Sharon said, "Israel is interested in making progress towards an agreement with the Palestinians, but there will be no diplomatic progress – I repeat, no diplomatic progress – until they take firm action to liquidate the terror organizations and their infrastructures. Of late, Israel has acted with restraint, in order to enable progress, but it's clear that if a firm Palestinian action against terrorism is not undertaken, Israel will have to intensify its military actions to protect itself." On Aug. 14, 2003, Arutz-7 reported: "Defense Ministry officials said today that Israel will not be continuing with any further diplomatic gestures towards the Palestinian Authority, at least until such time as the PA takes action against terrorist organizations operating from its jurisdiction. Prisoner releases will cease, and the PA will not be given control over any additional territories in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha), according to the officials." On Dec. 4, 2001, Minister Tzippy Livni told Arutz-7: "Until now, we said that the PA has to take action against terrorism, or we would declare it a terror-supporting entity. Now we have said that we do consider it a terror-supporting entity - unless it in fact takes action. The burden of proof is upon them." Israel's response thus far has included an announcement that preparations to transfer security control in cities such as Tul Karem and Jericho will be frozen – though they were mired in any event - and a ban on an Islamic Jihad representative from traveling to Egypt to meet with other terrorist leaders two days from now. The police in most of Israel are on the second-highest level of alert today.In addition, the IDF resumed arresting wanted terrorists in Judea and Samaria last night. Israel also plans to stop its "cease-fire" vis-a-vis the Islamic Jihad. Israel arrested two of the terrorist's brothers and four neighbors - including a Musleim cleric - in their village near Tul Karem. The PA said it arrested two terrorists in connection with the attack.PA chairman Abu Mazen, said to be very angry, called the attack an act of sabotage. "We will follow and track down those responsible and they will be punished accordingly," according to a statement he issued to reporters.Likud MK Yuval Shteinitz (pictured above), Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said today, "Abu Mazen is actually Arafat – maybe not the Arafat of the last few years who openly encouraged terrorism, but certainly the Arafat of the first years of Oslo – because though he is adhering to the hudna [temporary ceasefire], he has taken no forcible action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructures, to collect illegal weapons and to significantly punish those who organize terrorism."Shteinitz said that it doesn't matter whether the orders for the attack were given in Syria or in Ramallah. "The infrastructures are in Palestinian Authority territory," he said, "and it's the PA's responsibility to dismantle them."U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanded that Palestinian leaders find the culprits and "send a clear message that terror will not be tolerated." Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat expressed concerns that Israel would retaliate. "We are asking the international community to move immediately to ensure that Israel does not use this kind of operation as an excuse for aggressions against the Palestinian people," he said.Hamas terrorists blamed the attack on Israel, explaining that "Israeli aggressions and crimes are continuing even we as are observing this period of quiet."