State Dept. Calls Killing of Two Israelis ‘senseless’

The State Department on Thursday condemned the attack by a knife-wielding Arab in Jerusalem on Wednesday that left two Israeli dead and three others wounded.

But department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said she did not know if the attack on Jerusalem’s main shopping street was an act of terrorism.

“I don’t know, to be personally honest with you, what is the literal definition of terrorism here,” Tutwiler said in response to a reporter’s question. “It certainly is violence.”

She said that the department has never defined terrorism, although she agreed Secretary of State James Baker has said he would know terrorism when he sees it.

Tutwiler refused to say whether this act was a violation of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s renunciation of terrorism, which was one of the conditions the United States insisted upon before agreeing to open a dialogue with the PLO.

Israeli police said the attacker, who was from the West Bank town of Ramallah, is a Moslem fundamentalist. There is no indication he is connected with the PLO.

“I don’t know who this man was and I don’t see how you could connect the two,” she said, apparently referring to the PLO promise.

Reading a prepared statement on the incident, Tutwiler said: “We condemn yesterday’s senseless and tragic murder of two Israelis, as well as the wounding of three others. We are shocked and saddened by the increase in violence and senseless killing arising from confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied territories.

“We urge all those who truly seek peace to condemn such acts and to work together to achieve a durable Arab-Israeli peace.”

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