In Israel, Tom DeLay wants peace, not paper-thin truce

JERUSALEM — A truce by Palestinian militants is "paper thin,'' and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat must be further isolated if a new peace effort is to succeed, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told Israeli lawmakers July 30.

DeLay (R-Texas), on a tour of the Middle East, repeated calls for Palestinians to disarm militant groups as required by the U.S.-backed "road map'' plan for Middle East peace.

Speaking in a reception hall at the Knesset, DeLay said liberating Israel from Palestinian violence is part of the worldwide campaign against terror.

Dismissing the truce called by main Palestinian groups a month ago, he said: "And it's a liberation we are determined to secure, not merely a paper-thin cease-fire.''

Violence that has killed 2,421 Palestinians and 810 Israelis in the last three years has declined sharply since the three-month truce was declared by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on June 29. Arafat's Fatah movement declared a six-month cease-fire.

"Murderers who take 90-day vacations are still murderers,'' DeLay said.

DeLay, an evangelical Christian, is one of a group of increasingly powerful "Christian Zionists'' that staunchly supports Israel and opposes uprooting Jewish settlers from the West Bank, where they believe Jews have a divine right.

DeLay said victory in a global war against terrorism hinges partly on the disarming and dismantling of Palestinian militant groups.

"Israel's fight is our fight. And so shall it be until the last terrorist on Earth is in a cell or a cemetery,'' DeLay said, drawing loud applause from the crowd of lawmakers and Cabinet ministers.

Speaking at the Knesset, DeLay said ordinary Palestinians were pawns of a corrupt, brutal leadership.

"Their enemy is Yasser Arafat,'' he said. "Their enemy is Hamas, Hezbollah and the vast network of violent men who threaten this region like so many desert scorpions.''