WASHINGTON - The era of suicide bombing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be over and the culture of violence is changing in the region, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview aired on Sunday.
Abbas, who was in Washington last week to meet U.S. President George W. Bush, said Palestinian-
Israeli violence was down 90 percent in the past four months and he was optimistic for the future.
Asked in an interview with ABC's "This Week" whether the era of suicide bombing was over, he said: "I believe it is over."
"We have started to deal with the culture of violence, we stopped the culture of violence and the Palestinian people have started looking at it as something that should be condemned and it should stop."
Suicide bombers have been a tool of guerrillas in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There has been one Palestinian suicide bombing since an early February cease-fire - a Feb. 25 Tel Aviv "Stage" nightclub bombing that killed five people.
Israel accuses terrorists of planning several more that were foiled.
More U.S. intervention needed
Abbas said such a deadly tactic did not have the support from either the Palestinian Authority or the Palestinian people.
Abbas' trip to the White House was the first by a Palestinian president since earlier peace talks aimed at Palestinian statehood collapsed into bloodshed in 2000.
Asked about peace talks between the Palestinians and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Abbas said he hoped meetings set to begin next month would be fruitful.
"If we have meetings ... without any results there will be disappointment on the Palestinian side and the Palestinians will feel that there is no hope of these meetings."
The White House has decided to expand the role of U.S. security envoy, Gen. William Ward, to include working with Israelis and Palestinians on increasing security cooperation, a senior Bush administration official said.
U.S. and Israeli sources said the administration had concluded more direct U.S. intervention was needed to increase coordination before Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.
'Open the gates of war'
In the meantime the PA has published a list of 450 wanted Palestinians it has disclosed to Israeli security authorities.
The list is divided into those wanted Palestinians Israel has announced it would not hunt down and those it would continue to pursue.
At the top of the list of wanted Palestinians Israel said it would continue to pursue are senior Hamas member Muhammad Def and Popular Resistance Committees member Jamal Abu-Samahanda.
The PA has demanded that Israel announce the cessation of all activities against wanted Palestinians and warned the issue may end the relative calm.
PA officials added Palestinian security forces are exerting intensive efforts to convince the wanted Palestinians to lay down their arms.
Popular Resistance Committees Spokesman Abu Abir said the Palestinians have no faith in the Israelis.
"It is clear to us the main concern should be focused on those that appear on the list of wanted Palestinians Israel has agreed to pardon," he said.
"Any assassination (by Israel) would bring about a new, more extreme intifada. Palestinian blood is worth just as much as Israeli blood, and an assassination or an attempt to harm any activist (wanted Palestinian) would reopen the gates of war."