Palestinian prime minister urges end to suicide attacks
CNN March 31, 2004
Palestinian prime minister urges end to suicide attacks
Qorei calls bombings an 'obstacle to peace'
Ramallah, West Bank -- Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei
denounced suicide bombings as "morally wrong" and an "obstacle to peace"
Wednesday in an address to the Palestinian parliament.
He warned Palestinians not to carry out suicide attacks in response to
Israel's March 22 killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader of the Palestinian
Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas.
"These bombings are used by the Israeli government as an excuse to continue
its aggression and collective punishment against the Palestinian people,"
Israeli security has been increased, fearing terrorist attacks in
retaliation for Yassin's death. The Hamas leader was was fired on in an
Israeli airstrike as he left a mosque in his wheelchair. Israel said Yassin
had overseen operations that killed hundreds of civilians.
The U.S. State Department has labeled Hamas a terrorist organization. The
group's military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has claimed responsibility for
terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the
Qorei denounced Yassin's killing as "state terrorism," saying Israel is
trying to add fuel to the fire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
However, he called Palestinian bombing operations an "obstacle to peace."
"We have condemned these attacks, which are morally wrong, and today from
this podium we reiterate our rejection of such attacks because they harm our
national struggle, create tension with the world community, destroy our
economy and give a cover for the Israeli government to pursue settlement
plans and build the expansion and annexation wall," he said.
Israel and the United States have long called on the Palestinian Authority
to force terrorists to end their attacks.
Palestinian Authority leaders have accused Israel of impeding their ability
to strengthen and overhaul their security forces
Qorei also blamed infighting in the security forces divisions for impeding
the reform process.
"Our results have been limited for internal reasons," he said, pointing to
quarrels "between the Palestinian security apparatus and their leaders in
addition to the continuing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian
Qorei cited a "desperate need" to restructure the security apparatus, saying
it was a top issue for the Palestinian government.
The attack on Yassin followed weeks of Israel's military operations into
Gaza to counter possible terrorist attacks. Several Palestinians, including
civilians, have died in the operations.
Israel began the raids after a terrorist bus bombing killed eight people
February 22 in Jerusalem. Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a military offshoot of
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility
for the attack.
The U.S. State Department designated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as a foreign
On March 14, twin suicide bombings in Israel -- jointly claimed by Hamas and
Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- killed 10 people and derailed scheduled talks
between Qorei and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the "road map" to
The road map, backed by the United States, European Union, United Nations
and Russia, calls for steps by both sides aimed at ending the conflict and
establishing an independent Palestinian state by 2005.
Qorei's address also focused Wednesday on preventing construction of
Israel's barrier separating it from the West Bank. "The resistance to the
separation and expansion wall [is] at the top of the priority list," Qorei
Israel calls the long, winding barrier, which juts into sections of the West
Bank, a necessity to protect its citizens from attackers.
The Palestinian Authority says the barrier amounts to a land grab because it
cuts off access to large areas of Palestinian territory.
Qorei hailed the Palestinian government's success in convincing the
International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, to consider
whether Israel is violating international law with the barrier.
Referring to Israel's plan to withdraw from Gaza, Qorei said, "There are
many questions that need answers."
He urged Israel to withdraw "from every piece of soil from Palestinian land,
"The Gaza withdrawal plan can be a chance for all Palestinians to cooperate
and benefit from ... or it could be a trap that we should all be aware and
make sure we do not fall into," he said.
Jewish settlers clash with Palestinians
Meanwhile, Jewish settlers moved into the Silwan neighborhood in East
Jerusalem early Wednesday to establish a Jewish presence in the
predominantly Muslim neighborhood, according to Israeli police.
Palestinian residents protested, and clashes broke out as demonstrators
threw stones at police and the settlers, police said. Police fired tear gas
at the demonstrators. Six police were injured and nine Arabs arrested,
according to police.
Police said they searched the rooftops of some houses, finding a cache of
Molotov cocktails that authorities said protesters had intended to throw.
Also Wednesday, in the West Bank city of Hebron, hundreds of Jewish settlers
protested against Israeli forces who were trying to dismantle their illegal
Israeli military operations in West Bank, Gaza
Israel's military operations in the West Bank and Gaza continued Wednesday.
Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians as they crawled toward an
Israel Defense Forces outpost in the Neveh Dekalim settlement in southern
Gaza, an IDF spokesman and Palestinian security sources said.
The soldiers opened fire on the men early Wednesday when they were near the
post, according to the IDF.
"Two bodies were seen in the area close to the outpost," the IDF spokesman
said."We don't know yet whether they were armed."
In West Bank operations, Israeli troops arrested seven Palestinians wanted
CNN's Sausan Ghosheh in Ramallah contributed to this report.