Israelis have presented what the Bush administration believes is "compelling evidence" that Yasser Arafat knew about a shipment of weapons intercepted by Israel, a senior State Department official told CNN.
"We now know enough to say that there were actions that occurred that we can only assume Arafat had knowledge of, could have been involved with," the official said.
"We have had extensive briefings from the Israelis, and at the moment there is quite a bit of compelling evidence that figures Fatah and the Palestinian Authority were involved in this shipment, and it is clear that Chairman Arafat has a responsibility at this point to provide an immediate and clear explanation," the official said.
"We have concluded that part of these transactions and shipments were of such magnitude that we have to conclude that Arafat would have known," he said.
When asked what impact this might have on U.S. attempts to mediate a cease-fire and jump start long-stalled peace talks, the official refused to answer directly.
The captain of the ship, who was arrested by Israel, told reporters Monday he worked for the Palestinian Authority and that the shipment was to be delivered to the Palestinians.
He said he took his orders from a Palestinian Authority official in Greece.