MIDDLE EAST PEACE ACCORD: Bomb threatens prisoners' release

TWO EXPLOSIONS in cars in Israel last night posed a challenge to the deal agreed by the Palestinians and Israelis 24 hours earlier in Sharm el-Sheikh. Three people died in the blasts.

The Hamas Islamic militant organisation, which condemned the deal, has made a number of attacks over the past month that culminated in the killing of two Israeli hikers near Megiddo last weekend.

Last night's explosions, in Haifa and Tiberias, will put pressure on Ehud Barak, the Israeli Prime Minister, not to go ahead with the release of 350 Palestinian security prisoners over the next six weeks.

Hamas has been badly damaged by the Israeli and Palestinian security services since 1996, when suicide bombs killed 60 Israelis and ensured the poll victory of Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli and Palestinian security said Hamas planned attacks, and claimed to have prevented a number of attempts. Last night, the Israelis were not confirming that the explosions were car bombs but they came so close together in cities only 50 miles apart that co-ordination is likely.

The two dead in Tiberias and the one in Haifa were said have been occupants of the cars. If they were premature explosions, this is in keeping with the last suicide attack, in which two men in a car blew themselves up. Hamas may no longer be able to mount the sophisticated attacks it carried out in 1995 and 1996.

Nevertheless, suicide attacks in Israel have a proven ability to change the political mood. Mr Netanyahu won the 1996 election by saying peace deals with the Palestinians had reduced, not increased, Israeli security. If Hamas was behind the bombs there may have been another motive. Last week Jordan, under pressure from Israel, the United States and Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, closed the Hamas offices in Amman. They had remained open even during previous suicide attacks. Hamas may have wanted to show it still has the capacity to make attacks.

Earlier, Mr Barak told his cabinet the main Israeli achievement in renegotiating the Wye agreement was to put off transferring key territory to Palestinians until talks on a permanent settlement of all remaining issues in dispute got under way.

International applause for the deal signed by Mr Barak and Mr Arafat was in contrast to the more muted reaction of Israelis and Palestinians,waiting to see the effects of the agreement on the ground.

Talks on agreeing a framework of principles for resolving final-status issues - Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements, borders, Palestinian statehood and access to water - start on 13 September.

Ariel Sharon, elected leader of the opposition Likud party just as the deal was being agreed, said it was a lie to say Mr Barak had improved on what was previously negotiated. He called on the Prime Minister not "to release prisoners with blood on their hands".

Syria reacted negatively to the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement: the official Tishreen newspaper said the issue was not to sign accords but to see how these responded to the rights and and aspirations of the peoples of the region. "Syria strongly rejects being dragged into the game of signing agreements and deals to implement previously agreed accords," it said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Déjà vu: David Tennant returns to familiar territory with Anna Gunn (‘Breaking Bad’)
tvReview: Something is missing in Gracepoint, and it's not just the familiar names
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Accounts Office Administrator

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The ideal candidates will have ...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing boutique prac...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?