04/19/2006, 00.00
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Pope joins condemnation of Tel Aviv attack

"It is not through such execrable acts that one safeguards the rights, however legitimate, of a people," said Benedict XVI. Criticism was Hamas has poured in from the Arab League, Egypt and Turkey. Jordan cancelled a planned visit of the Palestinian Foreign Minister.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Pope today expressed the "strongest condemnation" for Monday's "terrorist act" in Tel Aviv. He joined a chorus of disapproval already voiced by countries in the Islamic world against the attitude taken by Hamas that refused to denounce the suicide attack. The Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the attack, which claimed the lives of nine people. "It is not through such execrable acts that one safeguards the rights, however legitimate, of a people," said the Pope at the end of today's general audience. Benedict XVI then prayed that the "Lord of Peace" may be close to the Israelis and Palestinians, "so they may not be caught in a tragic drift but resume steps towards living in peace and security, one alongside the other, as sons of the same father in heaven."

Meanwhile, there should no bloody reprisals from Israel, and the planned visit of the Foreign Affairs Minister of Hamas, Mahmud Zahar, to Jordan has been postponed. Zahar was scheduled to go to Amman from Saudi Arabia, where he managed to get financial backing of more than 92 million dollars to pay the salaries of 140,000 PNA employees.

The Israeli government, going by the statements of Prime Minister Olmert, has no intention of carrying out bloody reprisals for the attack. But a series of measures have been announced that will make Palestinians' movement extremely difficult. The steps taken will make it impossible for three Hamas MPs and a minister of the Palestinian government to continue living in Jerusalem. Israel "will exercise its inherent right of self-defense and will take the necessary steps to protect its citizens from Palestinian terror", David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office, told Haaretz, a daily newspaper.

French President, Jacques Chirac, currently on a trip in Egypt, was critical of the attitude of Hamas. Condemnation also came from the Islamic world. "Statements of Hamas which support terrorist attacks are not helpful to the political process," Namik Tan, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said. Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, described the attack as "an act of terrorism" and said "premeditated attacks on civilians contradict all tenets and laws". These were strong words coming from an Arab country that normally criticizes both Israel and Palestinians. The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, denounced the bombing and rejected "targeting civilians on both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides".

The cancellation of the visit of the Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister was explained in Amman by government spokesman Nasser Jawdeh. It was "put off until further notice following the discovery of missiles, explosives and automatic weapons during the last couple of days in a Hamas cell in Jordan". This group, continued Jawdeh, "is exploring several strategic targets in Amman".

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Israeli delegation to travel to Jordan to discuss Arab League peace plan
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