Tel Aviv bombing threatens Israeli-Palestinian truce.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
sraeli officials talked tough in
response to a suicide bombing in a
Tel Aviv nightclub Feb. 25, but
they resisted declaring an end to a cease-
Last Friday night's attack on the Stage
killed five people and wounded more
than 50, turning the usually raucous Tel
Aviv beachfront promenade into a
nightmare of blood and debris. "Quiet
— Blown Apart," was the headline in
Israel's leading daily, Yediot Achronot.
That "quiet" was the calming of violence
ushered in by the Feb. 8 cease-fire
declared by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas.
"While the State of Israel seeks to
advance toward an accord with the
Palestinians, there will be no diplomatic
progress — I repeat, no diplomatic
progress — until the Palestinians take
robust action to wipe out the terror
groups and their infrastructure in the
Palestinian Authority's territory," Sharon
told his Cabinet on Sunday.
Israel's restraint stemmed, in part,
from the outrage shown by the
Palestinian Authority at an attack whose
origins were apparently abroad. The
bomber was a 21-year-old Palestinian
from the city of Tulkarm, acting in the
name of Islamic Jihad. But the terrorist
group's own leaders in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip denied any involvement
in the bombing, which violated their
truce talks with Abbas.
Then came a claim from Islamic
Jihad's Beirut branch, a proxy of its
"Syria continues to give amnesty to
tenor groups and encourages them to
carry out attacks, which endangers the
peace process with the Palestinians and
regional stability," Israeli Defense
Minister Shaul Mofaz said after meeting
with security chiefs. Syria denied any
Israeli police and rescuers work at the scene of a Palestinian suicide bombing at the
popular Stage nightclub Feb. 25 in Tel Aviv.
involvement in the attack.
In apparent agreement with Mofaz,
Abbas blamed a "third side" for the
bombing and vowed a crackdown by the
Palestinian Authority. "We will bring
them to justice. We will not allow any-
one to sabotage the ambitions of our
people. Those who carried out the
attack are terrorists," Abbas told
reporters. "There is a third party which
wants to sabotage" the peace process.
Despite Abbas' strong language — the
word "terrorists" is rare in Palestinian
rhetoric — Sharon hinted that his
patience was limited. "Recently, the
State of Israel has shown restraint in
order to facilitate progress," he said.
"But it is clear that if the Palestinians do
not begin to take robust action against
terrorism, Israel will be compelled to
SHATTERED PEACE? on page 26