Bush May Sever Ties with Arafat

WASHINGTON?President Bush, accepting claims that Yasser Arafat is ultimately responsible for a boatload of weapons seized earlier this month, is considering cutting off relations with the Palestinian leader.

In November Bush outlined a vision of Palestinian statehood that was the most explicit ever in embracing Palestinian aspirations.

In exchange, Arafat forced militants to observe a cease fire for a short while. But good will be dissipated after Israeli commandoes seized a ship hauling tons of weapons. Arafat insists he was not involved in their purchase; Bush said he is “enhancing terror.'”

“This is now the lowest point in the relationship between Arafat and the United States,” said Brookings Institution scholar Shibley Telhami.

Bush continues to lower the U.S. profile in the region, refusing so far to meet Arafat, although he has met hard-line Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon three times.