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Sunday, November 7, 1999 Published at 09:18 GMT


World: Middle East

Bombs rock Israeli resort

At least 18 people were wounded in the blast

More than 20 people have been wounded by bomb blasts in the Israeli coastal resort of Netanya, north of Tel Aviv.


The BBC's Jeremy Bowen reports: "The bomb is a reminder that peace is not here yet"
Police said three pipe bombs blew up next to a rubbish bin on a main street and a fourth was made safe. A Palestinian man and a woman have been arrested in connection with the blasts.

The authorities say they suspect a political motive for the attack. The blasts come on the eve of intensive negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians on the final stage of the peace process.


[ image: The blast rocked the resort of Netanya]
The blast rocked the resort of Netanya
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said the government was determined to smash terrorism and called on the Palestinian Authority to act to prevent militants damaging the peace process.

No group has said it carried out the bombings.

The wounded were taken to two hospitals in Netanya, a resort on the Mediterranean coast 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Tel Aviv.

Nissim Bezalel, a taxi driver who witnessed the explosion, told Israel Radio he saw one man thrown into the air by the explosions.

Hamas threat

The bombings come a day after Israeli media reported that the militant Islamic Hamas movement issued a leaflet threatening attacks against Israeli citizens.


[ image: An indentified victim is taken to hospital.]
An indentified victim is taken to hospital.
Prime Minister Barak said that he took a "grave" view of the attack in Netanya.

"The government under my leadership is determined to foil terrorism and will do all it can to stop threats on the peace and well being of Israeli citizens," he said in a statement.

Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh said the Netanya attack would not stop Monday's talks.

"If we do that, we are doing the bidding of the terrorists. They laid a pipe bomb and with one primitive bomb they would have stopped an entire peace process," he said.

Palestinian chief negotiator for the talks Yasser Abed Rabbo said: "We condemn this act which harms the atmosphere as we prepare to begin final status negotiations."

Controversial issues

The talks in Ramallah will focus on some of the biggest problems that need to be solved before Israel and the Palestinians can sign a final peace settlement.

The negotiation teams will focus on five issues:

  • future status of Jerusalem
  • future of the Jewish settlements
  • Palestinian refugees
  • water rights
  • Israel's final borders

Both sides want Jerusalem as their capital. On the question of borders, Mr Arafat wants 90% of occupied land back, whereas Israel has offered only a fraction of that.

The issues seem virtually intractable, the BBC Jerusalem correspondent, Hilary Andersson, says.

A deal that is acceptable to the Palestinians might not appeal to the Israeli public. Finding a middle ground will require not only goodwill but also time.

Both sides have set themselves a tight timetable with a commitment to signing a final peace treaty by September 2000.





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