DEC 6 2005



Jerusalem points finger at Damascus for providing safe haven for Islamic Jihad terror activities, group responsible for Monday's Netanya bombing; U.S. State Department calls on Assad to close down group's Damascus headquarters

Israel has joined the United States in pointing the accusation finger at Syria as being responsible for the deadly suicide bombing  in Netanya Monday, with both countries quoting intelligence reports linking the regime of President Bashar Assad to the activities of the Islamic Jihad terror group.


The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Monday's attack at Netanya’s Sharon Mall, where a suicide bomber blew himself up killing 5 Israelis and injuring as many as 50 bystanders.


The U.S. State Department acknowledged claims by the Palestinian Authority that the orders to carry out the attack emanated from Damascus, a haven for Islamic Jihad's leadership.


The State Department condemned the attack calling on Syria to immediately close down the headquarters of the terror group in the Syrian capital.


Cabinet: Abbas weak leader in fight against terror


Israel’s adoption of the United State’s accusations against Syria was voiced during a meeting of the security cabinet in Jerusalem Tuesday.


“We accept the Palestinian Authority’s claims that the orders to carry out the attack came out of Damascus,” aides to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told reporters at the conclusion of the meeting.


The cabinet reiterated past Israeli claims that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas is a weak leader incapable of being a partner in the fight against terror.


The IDF has been instructed to intensify its operations against terror cells in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the wake of the attack, with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz seeking legal permission to dust off the targeted assassination policy against “ticking bombs” and terrorists with blood on their hands.


Jerusalem accused the Islamic Jihad leadership in Damascus of operating terror cells in the northern West Bank.


The Foreign Ministry has been instructed to ask Western countries to renew demands that Abbas cracks down on Palestinian terror organizations and intensify pressure on Damascus to ban terror groups from operation on its territory.


International call for PA crackdown


Aides in Abbas’ office in Ramallah’s Muqata received stern messages from Israeli and western diplomats with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior advisor Dov Weisglass telling his Palestinian counterpart that demands for Israeli assistance in all issues would fall on deaf ears.


“Don’t ask anything from us in the near future, from issues related to the border crossings in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and in general. You have to bare responsibility for your actions,” an Israeli diplomat reportedly told Abbas’ office.


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, E.U. High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and Egyptian diplomats urged Abbas to launch a campaign to disarm terror groups before the January 25 general elections for the PA leadership.


Israel’s belief that Abbas is incapable of controlling terror groups prompted the campaign to intensify pressure on Damascus with both Israel and the U.S. thinking that Syrian action against Islamic Jihad is likely to weaken the group’s operational activities in the West Bank and Gaza, an Israeli official told Ynet.


“There is no doubt that additional American pressure on Syria, which is being investigated by the United Nations for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri can narrow the activities of Islamic Jihad,” the source said.


“The orders and the funds come from there. Damascus is doing nothing to stop that. It’s possible that it has an interest in heating up the ground to stop pressure applied on it," the source said.


"In fact, if the Americans and the Europeans pressure Bashar Assad on this issue, the tap will be sealed for terrorists who dispatch Palestinian suicide bombers,” he added.






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