- JERUSALEM (AP) -- A truce
by Palestinian militants is "paper thin" and Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat must be further isolated if a new peace effort is to succeed,
U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told Israeli lawmakers Wednesday.
- DeLay, on a tour of the Middle East, repeated calls for
Palestinians to disarm militant groups as required by the U.S.-backed "road
map" plan for Middle East peace.
- Speaking in a reception hall at the Knesset, Israel's
parliament, DeLay said that liberating Israel from Palestinian violence
is part of the worldwide campaign against terror.
- Dismissing the truce called by main Palestinian groups
a month ago, he said: "And it's a liberation we are determined to
secure, not merely a paper-thin cease-fire."
- Violence that has killed 2,421 people on the Palestinian
side and 810 on the Israeli side in the last three years has declined sharply
since the three-month truce was declared by the Islamic groups Hamas and
Islamic Jihad on June 29. Arafat's Fatah movement declared a six-month
- "Murderers who take 90-day vacations are still murderers,"
- Delay spoke a day after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon met President Bush in Washington. Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud
Abbas saw Bush on Friday. Abbas has refused to order a crackdown on the
militant groups, fearing a civil war, preferring agreements, like the truce,
- DeLay, an evangelical Christian, is one of a group of
increasingly powerful "Christian Zionists" who are staunch supporters
of Israel and oppose uprooting Jewish settlers from the West Bank, where
they believe Jews have a divine right.
- He has long defended Israel's use of force against Palestinian
militants, saying the Jewish state is acting in self-defense, and has been
skeptical of the road map plan.
- The peace plan calls on Israel to dismantle Jewish settlement
outposts built without government authorization in Palestinian areas and
to make other concessions in exchange for peace. By 2005, according to
the plan, the Palestinians would have a state in the West Bank and Gaza
- DeLay said victory in a global war against terrorism
hinges partly on the disarming and dismantling of Palestinian militant
- "Israel's fight is our fight. And so shall it be
until the last terrorist on Earth is in a cell or a cemetery," DeLay
said, drawing loud applause from the crowd of lawmakers and Cabinet ministers.
- Palestinian lawmaker Saeb Erekat called DeLay's remarks
"despicable and satanic."
- "Our world is not divided between those who are
pro-Israeli and those who are pro-Palestinian," Erekat said after
hearing the text of DeLay's speech. "It is divided between those who
are pro-peace and those who are against it, and DeLay truly deserves to
head the camp of those who are against peace."
- DeLay arrived in Israel on Monday, meeting Israeli Foreign
Minister Silvan Shalom and visiting a Jerusalem cafe rebuilt after a Palestinian
suicide bomber killed 11 people there in March 2002.
- On Tuesday, he took a helicopter tour of the dividing
line between Israel and the West Bank and saw the northern border with
Lebanon. DeLay will travel on to Iraq, Jordan and Italy.
- Speaking at the Knesset, DeLay said ordinary Palestinians
were pawns of a corrupt, brutal leadership.
- "Their enemy is Yasser Arafat," he said. "Their
enemy is Hamas, Hezbollah and the vast network of violent men who threaten
this region like so many desert scorpions."
- While he belittled Arafat, DeLay praised his deputy,
Mahmoud Abbas - also known as Abu Mazen - who became the first Palestinian
prime minister in April after pressure from America and others.
- "The onus now shifts to the rest of the world to
take the ascension of Abu Mazen to its logical conclusion: Arafat must
be isolated," DeLay said.
- Israel has effectively banned Arafat from traveling since
tanks and bulldozers began demolishing most of his headquarters compound
in the West Bank town of Ramallah a year and a half ago. Since then, Arafat
has stayed in an office building there.
- © Associated Press. All rights reserved.