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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Key stage 1 and 2 teachers required for the Vale of Glamorgan

£90 - £110 per day + Travel Scheme & Free Training: Randstad Education Cardiff...

Foundation Phase Teacher required

£90 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Exciting opputunities availabl...

Learning Support Assistant

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

Learning Support Assistant - Newport

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz