..., the "news service":
GAZA (Reuters) - "It was Bush."
The verdict was near unanimous amid the tears and rage on Palestinian streets after Israel killed Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi in an air strike Saturday that many Arabs felt President Bush (news - web sites) must have approved.
"Bush has Rantissi's blood on his hands," said Khamis Saadi, among tens of thousands who swept into Gaza's shabby streets.
"All doors to hell should be opened against the Israelis and against the Americans," he cried.
U.S. officials denied giving a green light to Israel.
Rantissi was a mass murderer. He didn't commit the murders by his own hand, but he ordered the deaths of who knows how many innocents. It wouldn't bother me in the slightest to find out that Sharon had asked Bush, "Mind if we kill Rantissi?' and tha Bush had answered, "Go for it."
Sadly, I don't believe that's what happened. While the President has been supportive of Israel, he has shown a striking inability to understand that the Israelis have been fighting the same fight for 50 years that we've been fighting for the last 2 1/2. If we spotted Osama driving through the hills of Pakistan or Afghanistan, I have little doubt that Bush would order an attack. But I seriously doubt he would have approved this.
Not to fear, the Bush hating Palestinians have another theory:
But Palestinians, fuming over unprecedented concessions Bush gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites) last week for a Gaza pullout plan, felt Rantissi's killing was just another action in the same vein.
Sharon's Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qurie, called it "a direct result of American encouragement and the complete bias of the American administration toward the Israeli government."
The United States has always been a target of Palestinian and Arab ire because of its close relations with Israel.
But Bush's statement that Israel could expect to keep chunks of the West Bank seized in the 1967 Middle East war and ruled out a return of refugees to what is now Israel was felt by many Palestinians as a death blow for dreams of a real state.
"Bush freed the hands of Sharon to do whatever he liked with the Palestinian people, to kill their leaders and to confiscate their land," said one mourner in Gaza called Hammad.
By this logic, several EU ministers and presidents are "directly responsible" for the explosion of pizza parlors in Israel.
Meanwhile, no one has the guts to call Arafat a mass murderer. I will. Arafat is not a freedom fighter. He is a petty thug. A thief who's squirreled away millions, if not billions of dollars intended as humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people. And he is a murderer.
And taking out Hamas leaders is all well and good, but avoids the most fundamental problem. I hate to say something like this, but I've said it before and I'll probably say it again: There can be no peace as long as Arafat lives.