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House Blasts Arafat on Terror, Says Bush Should Reconsider Ties

December 6, 2001
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Lawmakers are calling on President Bush to suspend relations with the Palestinian Authority if P.A. President Yasser Arafat does not take concerted action to fight terrorism.

The House of Representatives passed the resolution — which is symbolic — Wednesday condemning last weekend’s terror bombings in Israel by a vote of 384-11.

The legislation condemns last weekend’s suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa that killed 25 people and wounded approximately 300. It also demands that the Palestinian Authority destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian terrorist groups, arrest terrorists and either prosecute them or extradite them to Israel for prosecution.

The bill, which has 54 co-sponsors in the House, also calls for solidarity with Israel.

Lawmakers said Arafat is not doing enough to thwart terrorism and questioned whether he even is able to control the terrorist groups operating from his territory.

Numerous legislators drew comparisons between the terrorism in Israel and the Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

“Israel and the United States are both victims of terrible acts of terrorism, and in that co-victimhood, we attempt to show solidarity,” said Hyde, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and co-sponsor of the bill with Lantos.

Yet debate became heated at times as a vocal minority criticized Israel and accused the House of bias.

“Getting Arafat is no solution,” Rahall said. “Continued humiliation is no solution.”

Some lawmakers, even among those voting for the resolution, suggested Congress is taking a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because resolutions are not not proposed when Palestinians are killed.

“We should start off de-funding both sides,” Paul said. “We are in a way an accomplice on this because we fund both sides.”

Members of Congress have proposed numerous bills this year calling on President Bush to take action against the Palestinians, such as cutting off non-humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, restricting Palestinian leaders’ travel and downgrading the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington. No sanctions were suggested in Wednesday’s bill.

Still, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee applauded the debate.

“This resolution clearly shows that in Congress there is a feeling that Arafat has reached the end of the line,” said Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s executive director. “If he does not act against these terrorists that regularly attack Israelis, he forfeits his relationship with America and demonstrates he is on the wrong side of the war against terrorism.”

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