Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Peace Moves on amid Car Bombs 3 Die in Blasts in 2 Israeli Cities

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Peace Moves on amid Car Bombs 3 Die in Blasts in 2 Israeli Cities

Article excerpt

JERUSALEM -- Less than 24 hours after the signing of a major Middle East peace deal, a pair of powerful car bombs exploded in two northern Israeli cities yesterday, killing three men who police said were apparently planning to detonate them in densely populated neighborhoods. One passer-by was critically injured.

The seemingly coordinated bombs in Tiberius and Haifa, which are both thought to have exploded prematurely, fit a pattern of terror attacks by militant Palestinian groups timed to sabotage Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking whenever it appears to gain momentum. However, there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.

Fearing further attacks, Israeli police threw up roadblocks around other towns and cities in the north.

The big question was the impact the bombs could have on the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has said in the past that terror attacks could halt it.

Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy told Israel radio that Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority knows "no act of terror is acceptable or will be acceptable alongside the peace process." But he said the government wants to know all the facts before commenting further.

Gilead Sher, who served as Barak's envoy during talks with the Palestinians leading up to the latest accord, suggested attacks like these could derail peace efforts.

"If we don't have sufficient security here in Israel, I think the peace process is in danger of collapse," he said.

Palestinian leaders condemned the attacks, and stressed their determination to fight terror and press ahead with peace.

Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian negotiator, told Associated Press Television News that the Palestinian Authority would maintain "a policy of zero tolerance of terror." He told Israelis, however, that nothing should stop the peace process.

"The enemies of peace are attacking those who seek peace, particularly when we take a step forward toward achieving peace," said Nabil Shaath, a top Palestinian negotiator. "We condemn these terrorist acts and condemn everybody who stands behind them. …

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