In statements on the TA suicide bombing, the nations criticize Israel.
By HERB KEINON
Egypt and South Africa's condemnations of Monday's suicide bombing stood out from the others that poured in from around the world because they equated the terrorist act with Israeli actions.
The Egyptian State Information Service put out a statement Wednesday saying Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit "deplored the Israeli shelling of the northern Gaza Strip and the massive raid mounted against the West Bank city of Nablus." Gheit said, "Continued Israeli military operations and the oppression of the Palestinian civilians fan feelings of hatred and derail peace efforts."
The statement continued: "Aboul-Gheit further denounced the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station, which killed eight [sic] people and injured up to 52 others." Nine people were killed in the attack.
The statement said that Egypt's ambassador to the United Nations, Maguid Abdul-Fattah, "blamed the latest turmoil to the Israeli measures, including the economic blockade, the isolation of Palestinian cities and villages as well as restrictions on the movement of the Palestinians and their goods due to the West Bank separation wall."
The South African Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that it condemned the bombing "in the strongest possible terms."
At the same time, the statement read, "The suicide bombing, which follows the bombing of Gaza last week that left dead more than 15 Palestinians, including a baby and a number of innocent children, are all acts that are counterproductive to peace."
Then, implying that Israel engages in terrorism, the statement continued, "We stand firm in our belief that no cause can justify the resort to terror against innocent civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli, as acts of terror cannot deliver the much cherished peace and security sought by Palestinians and Israelis alike."
Turkey, which like both South Africa and Egypt has maintained relations with Hamas, took a different approach.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul criticized the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority Wednesday for refusing to denounce the attack.
"The Palestinian government should also have condemned the latest attack in Israel," Gul said in an interview on CNN-Turk television. "If it had condemned it, it would have been a great opportunity for a solution."
"The result is the same whether the blood being shed is Muslim or Jewish," Gul said. "We are working to stop this. Is that bad?"
Turkey hosted a Hamas delegation in Ankara shortly after the organization won the PA legislative elections on January 25.
US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac all roundly condemned the bombings in statements, as did Pope Benedict XVI.
Bush said he "strongly deplored" the attack, and while urging restraint, he angrily called on Palestinians to reject violence.
"It is unjust and it is unnecessary," he said. "I have consistently reminded all parties that they must be mindful of whatever actions they take and mindful of the consequences... For those who love peace in the Palestinian territories, they must stand up and reject this kind of violence."
Blair, speaking at his weekly House of Commons question session, said, "I hope very much that Hamas realize that those who kill innocent people in this way, by this type of attack that happened in Tel Aviv, are wicked and irresponsible, but more than that, that they do absolutely nothing to further the process of peace in the Middle East or the two-state solution that we all want to see," he said.
Chirac, in an interview published in Egypt's Al-Ahram daily on Wednesday, said Hamas must continue to respect a truce with Israel and understand that "violence is a dead end" for Palestinians.
Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday expressed the "firmest condemnation", saying, "One cannot defend even the legitimate rights of a people with such abominable acts."
AP contributed to this report.
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