JERUSALEM (AP) A suicide bomber set off an explosion at a busy intersection in northern Israel yesterday, failing to kill anyone other than himself but intensifying already heavy American and Israeli pressure on Yasser Arafat.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said a string of recent bombings are “destroying his (Arafat”s) authority and credibility,” and Vice President Dick Cheney told NBC”s “Meet the Press” that “until Arafat demonstrates that he is serious about suicide attackers, there won”t be progress.”
The United States and Israel have demanded that Arafat do more to stop terrorists the Palestinian leader says he is already cracking down on them and that 180 have been arrested. So long as the terrorism continues, Israel says its incursions into Palestinian territory are necessary.
In the West Bank yesterday, Israeli soldiers killed five Palestinians and detained 30 suspected militants in raids on two villages.
American diplomatic efforts hit a rough patch as peace envoy Anthony Zinni told Israeli and Palestinian security officials that if they didn”t make real progress in the next 48 hours, he would consider leaving the region, one Israeli official said on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli said Zinni _ who arrived in Israel just two weeks ago, saying he would stay as long as it took to restore calm and restart peace talks _ stood up and left talks between the two sides after issuing his ultimatum.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Paul Patin declined to comment on the meeting yesterday afternoon at Jerusalem”s King David Hotel, other than to say the United States planned to convene another in a few days.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned after the botched bombing in the northern port city of Haifa that Israeli strikes on the Palestinian territories were likely to intensify.
“In light of what is going on, we will apparently have to increase our (military) activity,” he said.
The Haifa bombing, which killed the attacker and slightly injured 11 bystanders, came exactly a week after another suicide bomber detonated himself on a bus there, killing 15.
That attack and one that killed 11 in Jerusalem the night before set off a new crisis, prompting Israel to strike Palestinian police and security installations.
An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said yesterday”s bomber had intended to set off two explosions, one to draw rescue workers to the scene and then a larger bomb strapped to his body.
Instead, he blew himself up when police confronted him. Emergency workers found a second bomb hours later and detonated it in a controlled explosion.
Palestinian security sources identified the attacker as Nimr Abu Sayfien, 20, from the town of Yamoun in the northern West Bank.
About 3,000 people marched through Yamoun later to show support for Abu Sayfien”s family, some shouting “Intefadeh until victory!”