US, Israel Shun Arafat; Israel Destroys Bombers' Homes

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:14 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israeli troops demolished the West Bank homes of two suicide bombers early Friday as Israel and the U.S. made it clear there would be no dealing with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, who is busy putting together a new cabinet.

Israeli forces were operating in the West Bank city of Jenin on Friday for the second day "as part of the war against terrorists and [their] infrastructure," an army spokesman said.

The army said it was carrying out operations in the city "due to alerts as to the intent of terrorists to emanate terror attacks" against Israel. Since June, the army has thwarted 13 suicide and car bomb attacks that Islamic Jihad was planning to perpetrate from the area, the army said.

Early Friday, Israeli troops destroyed the home of Ihad Abd El Kadar in the village of Rantis near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Kadar blew himself up last week in a suicide bomb attack at a bus stop near Tel Aviv, killing eight soldiers.

The West Bank home of another suicide bomber, Shadi Zacharia Tubasi was also demolished. Tubasi carried out the suicide attack on the Matzah Restaurant in Haifa in March last year, killing 15 people.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Friday that he didn't believe it was possible to move ahead in the peace process as long as Arafat was still in charge but he said that PA Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia could prove himself by fighting terror.

"There's a desire to choose a Palestinian prime minister...when [he] is elected, he will have to prove himself by his actions - first of all, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructures," Mofaz said in a radio interview.

Mofaz's comments come a day after President Bush said that Arafat had "failed as a leader" and had undermined his former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Members of the Quartet, the U.S., European Union, Russia and the United Nations, pressured Arafat into appointing a prime minister.

The Quartet had invested its hopes in Abbas' leadership and his willingness and ability to fight terror and wrest power from Arafat. But during his few months in office, Abbas struggled with Arafat over matters of authority at every turn.

Bush admitted that the U.S.-backed peace process had "stalled" since Abbas resigned less than two weeks ago. He called on the Palestinians to realize that "if they want peace, they must have leadership who is absolutely 100-percent committed to fighting off terror."

Arafat has enjoyed resurgence in popularity since Israel threatened to "remove" him last week, following back-to-back suicide bombings that left 15 people dead.

He and leaders of his Fatah organization are in the process of choosing members for the new cabinet of Qureia, seeming to indicate that the upcoming Palestinian government will still be under Arafat's control.