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MIDDLE EAST: Suicide Bomber Strikes; Abbas Gov't OK'd; Road Map Released

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  • Paul
    UN WIRE 300403 http://www.unwire.org/unwire/2003/04/29/current.asp#33447 MIDDLE EAST: Suicide Bomber Strikes; Abbas Gov t OK d; Road Map Released Hours after
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2003
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      UN WIRE 300403

      MIDDLE EAST: Suicide Bomber Strikes; Abbas Gov't OK'd; Road Map Released

      Hours after Palestinian Parliament approval of the controversial Cabinet of
      new Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, a suicide bomber today detonated in a
      crowded Tel Aviv bar, underscoring the difficulties facing the long-awaited
      "road map" to peace in the Middle East as militants protested reformist
      Abbas' policies. Later today U.S. officials met with Israeli Prime Minister
      Ariel Sharon to present the peace plan.

      The bomber struck a beachfront pub called Mike's Place a little after 1
      a.m., killing three and injuring at least 40. Most were young people there
      for a jazz and blues night.

      The attack followed yesterday's approval by the Palestinian legislature of
      Abbas' choice of Cabinet, which includes a security chief who opposes
      violent strikes against Israel. In his address to Parliament, Abbas, also
      known as Abu Mazen, spoke out on his opposition to terrorism and his most
      controversial policy, his desire to disarm militants (Joel Greenberg,
      Chicago Tribune, April 30).

      "We denounce terrorism by any party and in all its forms, both because of
      our religious and moral traditions and because we are convinced that such
      methods do not lend support to a just cause like ours, but rather destroy
      it," Abbas said.

      "Ending the armed chaos, which carries a direct threat to the security of
      the citizen, will be one of our fundamental missions," he said. "There is no
      place for weapons except in the hands of the government," he added (Justin
      Huggler, London Independent, April 30).

      The response from militants came swiftly. The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the
      militant wing of Abbas' own Fatah political party, claimed responsibility
      for the bombing in Tel Aviv and told Associated Press the attack was a
      message to the new leader that "nobody can disarm the resistance movements
      without a political solution" (Yoav Appel, AP/Yahoo! News.com, April 30).

      Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders confirmed their commitment to their chosen
      course of action. "We will continue carrying arms until the end of the
      occupation," said senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz Rantisi. "We are
      resisting an occupation that still exists. The day we get rid of the
      occupation we can talk about arms" (Greenberg, Chicago Tribune). Hamas also
      reportedly claimed responsibility for the bombing (Lisa Adams, AP/Yahoo!
      News.com, April 30

      Israeli Cabinet Minister Dan Naveh said the bombing revealed the
      difficulties facing Abbas as he strives to meet conditions -- including
      disarmament of militants -- required by the road map to Palestinian
      statehood. "As long as Abu Mazen is in his position but [Palestine
      Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser] Arafat continues to go behind his
      back and encourages the terror, we will not see a change," he told Israel
      Radio (Appel, AP/Yahoo! News.com).

      Ha'aretz reports that Israeli military intelligence has told Israeli
      politicians that Abbas feels too powerless to effect actual disarmament and
      plans to avoid confrontation.

      "According to what we know now, Abu Mazen plans to speak with the Hamas and
      Islamic Jihad leaders, and not clash with them," a senior military source
      reportedly told the newspaper yesterday.

      "He may have opposed the violent intifada from the first day," say sources,
      "but he's barely a third of the new political framework in the PA
      [Palestinian Authority]. The other two-thirds are Yasser Arafat and the
      terror organizations, which continue to support violence" (Amos Harel,
      Ha'aretz, April 30).

      The road map drawn up by the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and
      the United States lays out three phases of a plan to establish an
      independent Palestinian state by 2005. The first phase requires the
      Palestinians to reorganize security cooperation, end violence and disarm
      extremists. In exchange, as part of the first phase Israel would end
      settlement activity, dismantle settlement outposts built since March 2001
      and withdraw from the Palestinian areas it has occupied since the intifada
      began in September 2000.

      The second phase would address "provisional borders" of a Palestinian state
      and Palestinian economic recovery. The third, scheduled to be launched in
      early 2004, would tackle the most divisive issues between the two sides,
      including the status of Jerusalem, permanent borders and the right of return
      for Palestinian refugees (Wright/Chu, Los Angeles Times, April 29).

      The White House said this morning's bombing would not derail plans to
      release the peace plan (Greenberg, Chicago Tribune). U.S. Ambassador Dan
      Kurtzer met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today and was to
      present him with the road map (Adams, AP/Yahoo! News.com).
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