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Blast in Jerusalem kills 1 Israeli, injures 110

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An Israeli man was killed and more than 110 people were injured in a Palestinian bombing attack midday Sunday in the center of west Jerusalem. It was the second attack in the same area in less than a week.

Israeli police said a Palestinian woman suspected of detonating the bomb was killed at the scene. They said it was not clear whether she was a suicide bomber or she was planting a bomb that prematurely detonated.

The Palestinian Authority leadership said it strongly condemned the attack, but Israeli officials laid the blame on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

"The Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership have reached a moment of truth, and they have to make a decision," said Ranaan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "We are not going to allow ourselves to continue to be victims of this terrorist campaign."

The blast, which coincided with the beginning of the Israeli workweek, occurred near Jaffa and King George streets, a busy commercial strip where a Palestinian gunman went on a shooting spree last week, killing two women and injuring more than a dozen people before police shot him dead.

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    Jaffa Street is also close to the Sbarro pizza restaurant where a suicide bomber killed 15 people last year.

    Emergency services raced to the scene, treated people there and carried them away to hospitals. Explosives reportedly were still attached to the body of the bomber.

    Police are looking into whether there was an accomplice in the attack.

    Revenge cited

    Israel has mounted a sustained clampdown on the Palestinian Authority since a January 17 attack at a bat mitzvah gathering in Hadera that killed six Israelis. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an arm of Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the Hadera attack and for a shooting rampage Tuesday in Jerusalem that killed two people.

    The group said its attacks came in revenge for the January 14 killing of Fatah leader Raed al-Karmi and for the deaths of four Hamas activists who were killed Tuesday in an Israeli raid in the West Bank town of Nablus.

    Karmi was on Israel's most-wanted list for taking responsibility for the deaths last year of two Tel Aviv restaurant owners. Israeli authorities also accused him of being involved in the deaths of eight other Israelis.

    Attacks on Israelis had abated briefly following Arafat's call for a cease-fire December 16, which followed a rash of suicide attacks on Israeli civilians.

    In Washington, the Bush administration is mulling options in its relationship with Arafat.

    Government officials said Saturday they would not be sending Mideast envoy Anthony Zinni back to the region at this time. Zinni has been trying to broker a cease-fire and cooling-off period between the Israelis and Palestinians.

    One source said Arafat telephoned U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell last week and urged him to send Zinni, a retired Marine general, back to the region to help restore calm.

    "But Powell told Arafat, 'You have a lot of things to do on security, and you better act quickly,' " one official said. "Without some action there is no envoy, there is no U.S. engagement."

    Bush administration officials said they are focusing on the issue of "what Arafat needs to do" to end terrorism and "clear the way for peace," making it clear that they are not considering sending Zinni to the troubled region at present.

    "Arafat knows what he needs to do," said an official with the National Security Council.

    Bush administration options

    Several senior officials said the administration's next move will hinge on what steps Arafat takes to improve the security situation.

    Among the options are:

    -- Breaking off U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority.

    -- Adding Arafat's personal security force and other Palestinian groups to the U.S. list of terrorist groups.

    -- Closing the Palestinian Authority's Washington office.

    -- Ending or suspending Zinni's work.

    U.S. officials said President Bush finds himself in a vexing position: cutting ties or imposing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority could cause a ripple effect in the Arab world and likely end any hopes of getting the Mideast peace process back on track in the near future.

    CNN's Jerrold Kessel and Rula Amin contributed to this report



     
     
     
     


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