Israel came under mounting pressure on Tuesday to ease the siege it has imposed on the Palestinian Authority in the six days since a suicide bombing attack reinforced Israeli concerns that the Palestinians have done too little to root out terrorism.
As world leaders began a quest for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, top Arab and Western officials joined in suggesting that Israel may have demanded too much of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader. His government is reeling from the harsh measures that Israel has ordered.
Meeting in Cairo, the Arab League labeled the Israeli action “a declaration of war against the Palestinian people.” After consultations with Foreign Minister David Levy of Israel, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said that Arafat was “not powerful enough” to do all that Israel has demanded. The grim mood was reinforced by a statement issued by the militant Islamic group Hamas, which warned that it intended to carry out “a chain of martyrdom operations” that would extend “into the depth of the Zionist entity.”