Arafat Says He Is Ready for 'Unconditional Cease-Fire'

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said Saturday that he was ready for an "immediate and unconditional cease-fire."

Arafat spoke a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Tel Aviv disco, killing 17 Israelis and wounding scores of others.

Speaking at his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Arafat said he condemned the attack.

"We are ready to make all possible efforts to stop the bloodshed of our people and the Israelis and to do everything necessary for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire," Arafat said after a meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had announced two weeks ago that he would unilaterally observe a truce and urged the Palestinians to do the same.

At the time, the Palestinians dismissed Sharon's gesture as a ploy, and said the violence only could end once Israel lifted its blockade of Palestinian areas and halted settlement expansion.

Arafat's announcement came as Israel's Cabinet was meeting in Tel Aviv to discuss a possible response to the suicide bombing, the deadliest in five years.