JERUSALEM – Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in a televised address, called Sunday for an end to suicide bombings against Israel and said all "armed activity" must cease.
At the same time, Arafat said the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had "declared war" on the Palestinian Authority.
In a speech to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, Arafat blamed Sharon for the surging Mideast violence, and said Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians gave Sharon an excuse to escalate military actions.
"Today, I am reiterating my call for a comprehensive cessation to all the armed activities. ... I call for a complete stop to all activities, especially the suicide attacks that we condemn always," he said.
He added that Palestinian mortar attacks against Israel should also cease.
Throughout his speech, Arafat said the Israelis were responsible for the current Mideast crisis. He said the Palestinians should observe a cease-fire, but did not explicitly call for an end to the 15-month-old Palestinian uprising.
"We declared the state of emergency and we have implemented a series of arrangements ... including declaring illegal all forms which are committing terrorist activities," said Arafat, who was declared "irrelevant" by the Israeli Cabinet after a deadly Palestinian attack on an Israeli bus near a West Bank settlement last week.
"All have to respect this initiative. The Israelis do not respect it, and they don't want a cease-fire, but we are respecting our commitments," he said.
He also spoke directly to the Israeli people, urging a resumption of peace talks and promising that he sought not to destroy Israel but only the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, all occupied in the 1967 war.