[The question remains: When will the US make the same demand of Saudi Arabia??]

Stop supporting Hamas and the other terrorist organizations, the American Secretary of State told his Syrian counterpart two days ago.

Colin Powell gave Farouk Ashara his explicit demand two days ago by telephone. The American official attempted all weekend to calm the violence between Israel and the Palestinians, and also spoke with the foreign ministers of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. He told them to act as they promised at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, to stop supporting terrorism, and to stop financing terrorist groups.

Powell also spoke with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, European Union representatives and United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan. Powell said that the problem in the progress of diplomatic contacts is not Israel, but the cessation of Palestinian terrorism. What we want is clear. Hamas must stop. Intifada must stop. El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades must stop. All of them need to stop, and then there will be no need to respond to terrorism, he told reporters.

Other senior administration officials joined Powell’s position. “The subject is Hamas,” they said over the weekend. President Bush himself retracted his criticism of the attempted assassination of Hamas senior official Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and he stood with his administration against terrorism.

No one can permit terrorists to kill and remain exempt from response. This is a very dangerous time because of the terror attacks in Israel. The subject is not Israel, but Prime Minister Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. The subject is the terrorists, Hamas and the others, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

Diplomatic activity will be the focus this week. Prime Minister’s Bureau Chief Dov Weissglass took off for Washington last night, where he will meet with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice about diplomatic developments. This weekend, Powell himself is due to arrive, to take part in a Davos economic conference that will take place in Amman. At the end of the conference, the American Secretary of State is expected to pay a lightning visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

This piece ran on June 15th, 2003 in Maariv