Jerusalem, 6 January 2003

FM Netanyahu Discusses Terrorist Attack with Powell
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

In a phone conversation today (6 Jan) with Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, to expressed his sorrow over yesterday’s terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.

Mr. Netanyahu stated, "The attack was one of indiscriminate murder, carried out by terrorists sponsored and bankrolled by Arafat. In the face of Arafat’s behavior encouraging terrorism, we had to choose whether to turn a blind eye, pretend ‘business as usual’, and allow Arafat’s puppets to go off to London to discuss the so-called ‘reforms’."

Foreign Minister Netanyahu added that President Bush had recently stated that leadership which permits terrorism is unfit to lead. Arafat, Netanyahu said, falls into that category.

Mr. Netanyahu briefed his American colleague regarding last night’s decisions of the Inner Cabinet, and also discussed with Mr. Powell the Iraqi threat and the future of Saddam Hussein.

Also today, Dutch Foreign Minister Jan de Hoop Scheffer called Foreign Minister Netanyahu and expressed his condolences regarding the attack.