Cowen condemns Palestinian suicide bombing


The suicide bombing in an Israeli billiards club that left at least 15 people dead was condemned today as an "outrage" by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Mr Brian Cowen said such attacks did nothing to advance any legitimate political agenda, and that all who sought peace in the Middle East must work together to prevent further atrocities.

Both sides in the conflict had suffered greatly in recent weeks, Mr Cowen said, adding that he hoped this latest incident would not derail the peace process even further and prevent the resumption of negotiations.

The lifting of the siege at the Church of the Nativity and ending the restrictions on President Yasser Arafat's movements were positive developments that gave hope for the future, Mr Cowen said.

"Ireland's own experience of conflict resolution has shown clearly that progress can be achieved only when those parties committed to peace refuse to allow the peace process to be made hostage to the latest atrocity carried out by men of violence."

The Israeli Prime Minister Mr Ariel Sharon will meet with political allies tomorrow to discuss Israel's next move after cutting short his visit to Washington DC last night.

Last night Mr Arafat said he had directed his security forces to work to prevent Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians, but he complained that the force was too weak to carry out his orders.