Terror Attacks Continue; 'Arafat Still the President'

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:13 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Although there are fewer warnings of impending terror attacks, deadly terrorism has not stopped since Palestinian militant groups declared a ceasefire two weeks ago, an Israeli source said on Tuesday. His comment follows a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv that left one Israeli dead.

In another development, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) reportedly patched up their differences overnight.

According to reports, Arafat and Abbas hadn't spoken for a week since Abbas resigned from the Fatah Central Committee following criticism over the way he was handling talks with Israel.

On Monday evening, Abbas said that "things are all right."

An official in Abbas' office was quoted as saying that Abbas wanted "to reiterate that Arafat is still the president even if there are internal disputes." He also said Abbas "would never abandon Arafat."

PA lawmaker Saeb Erekat was also quoted as saying that Abbas and Arafat had reaffirmed that the Palestinian leadership, headed by Arafat, is "in charge of peace talks with Israel."

Israel has said that Arafat is a stumbling block to the implementation of the "road map," but an Israeli government source said that Israel is not looking at declarations made by the PA at this time.

"The declarations have to be put aside," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We understand the domestic problems Abbas has," the source said. "Arafat is trying to sabotage the process. At the same time, Abu Mazen is trying to go ahead with the process," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on a two-day official visit to London, was unable to persuade the British government to cut off its contacts with Arafat.

Israel has charged that the ongoing dialogue between European officials and Arafat only buoys his support and weakens Abbas, whom the Quartet - the U.S., European Union, Russia and United Nations - worked so hard to have appointed in the hopes of wresting power from Arafat.

Israel is not happy about this, he said, because if Arafat is involved in the process, it will "only put obstacles [in the way and] make the process more difficult."

Searches were continuing on Tuesday for a "handler" or accomplice who dropped off a Palestinian terrorist near the beachfront in Tel Aviv after midnight. Amir Simhon, 24, was stabbed to death and two other Israelis were wounded by the terrorist.

At about 1:30 a.m. the terrorist tried to enter the Tarabin restaurant but was prevented from doing so by a security guard, whom he then stabbed, said police spokesman Gil Kleiman.

Civilians in the pub threw chairs at the assailant and forced him outside. He took off running down the street and stabbed two other people, one of whom died, before being shot in the legs by a civilian. He was arrested and given medical treatment, Kleiman said.

Israeli media reports said the terrorist was from eastern Jerusalem and he reportedly told interrogators that he was part of the al Aksa Martyrs' Brigade, an offshoot of Arafat's Fatah faction.

Kleiman pointed out that although there haven't been large attacks, terrorism has continued with deadly results.

A week ago, a woman was killed by a suicide bomber in her home in the northern Israeli village of Yavetz; and on Friday an Israeli taxi driver was kidnapped near Jerusalem. He is still missing and Israeli official believe he is being held by terrorists in Ramallah. Searches were intensifying to find him.

That's three attacks in a week, Kleiman said. He said the police are still mobilized to the same degree they have been for months, even before a temporary halt to attacks was declared by militant groups.

The army meanwhile, arrested three operatives overnight from the Tanzim wing of Arafat's Fatah faction in the West Bank city of Nablus.

The three are accused of involvement in a double-suicide bomb attack a year ago in which four people were killed and 36 others wounded.

They are also accused of planning another suicide bombing in the near future, the army said. A sub-machine gun and two pistols were found in their possession.

Elsewhere in Nablus, troops discovered an arms cache containing a 10-kilo (22-pound) armor-penetrating explosive device, three belts designed to hold explosives, and technical devices used for making explosives, the army said. The arsenal was exploded by sappers, the army added.