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Powell scolds Arafat after terror attack in Jerusalem

Powell & Arafat
Powell spoke with Arafat via telephone on Thursday while aboard Air Force One.  

By Elise Labott
CNN State Department Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell gave Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a tongue-lashing Thursday after the deadly terror attack in the heart of Jerusalem and told him to arrest those responsible.

The attack killed three Israelis and wounded many others.

Powell spoke with Arafat by telephone from Air Force One en route to Texas with President Bush. Officials say that Powell had intended to speak to Arafat about the ongoing situation in the Middle East, but ended up discussing the bombing.

"This is the toughest yet," one official told CNN. "He laid everything at his feet. He said Arafat was bringing this upon himself and dashing the hopes of the Palestinian people who are counting on the vision of a Palestinian state we have laid out for them."

The official told CNN that Powell made it a "personal issue," with Arafat, noting that the Bush administration sent Middle East peace envoy Anthony Zinni to the region to help get security and peace negotiations back on track.

State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker also said that Powell ordered Arafat to make a public condemnation of the attacks in both English and Arabic, arrest those responsible and bring them to justice.

Arafat did "strongly condemn" the bombing and said "we will take all immediate measures."

Officials say they are not sure if those responsible for the attack are trying to derail any Israeli-Palestinian peace effort, or acting with Arafat's blessing.

"It's a little bit of both," one State Department official said. "Clearly there are extremists who want to upset this and you can't prevent every act of violence. But it is also clear that Arafat has influence with these people and he is not doing what he needs to do. He is choosing not to lead, and choosing to let anarchy reign."

This official suggested that Arafat might have decided that he cannot achieve peace with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and is "abdicating his leadership."




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