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Israel says Iran, Syria masterminded attack

Associated Press
Published January 21, 2006

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israel's defense minister accused Iran and Syria on Friday of masterminding a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that wounded 20 people and said the militant group believed responsible would be targeted in raids. A Syrian official denied involvement.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Syria and Iran, claimed responsibility for bombing a fast-food restaurant Thursday.

After a late-night meeting with security officials, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said early Friday, "We have definitive proof that the financing of the terror attack ... came directly from Iran, while the planning was carried out in Syria."

He said the findings would be shared with American and European officials.

Faisal Sayegh, the director of Syria's state-run broadcast media, said Syria had "nothing to do with the operation."

Mofaz said Israel would tighten security around Nablus, the West Bank city where the bomber lived, and target Islamic Jihad militants in raids, but no major reprisals were planned.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack and said it was an attempt to sabotage Wednesday's Palestinian vote. Islamic Jihad is not participating in the election.

Israeli party backs giving up parts of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM - In its new campaign platform, the Labor Party supports giving up Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem in a final deal with the Palestinians, Labor lawmaker Yuli Tamir said Friday.

The platform, to be officially presented Sunday, "is a statement that we are willing to give up the Muslim neighborhoods of Jerusalem in order to strengthen the Jewish majority," Tamir said.

It marked the first time that a mainstream Israeli party said as part of a campaign that it was willing to give up parts of Jerusalem. Elections will be March 28.

Israel's declared policy has long been that a united Jerusalem will be its eternal capital. But Palestinians want to establish their future capital in east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War and annexed into its capital.

[Last modified January 21, 2006, 01:34:14]

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