Bin Laden warns over Palestine

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Osama bin Laden released a new message today saying al-Qa'ida will continue its war against Israel and its allies until it liberates Palestine.

The message came as President George Bush ended his visit to Israel to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state.

Bin Laden said the fight for the Palestinian cause was the most important factor driving al-Qa'ida's war with the West and fuelled the 11 September attacks.

The authenticity of the nearly 10 minute message could not be verified, but it was posted on a website commonly used by al-Qa'ida.

Bin Laden said the fight for the Palestinian cause was the most important factor driving al Qaida's war with the West.

"To Western nations ... this speech is to understand the core reason of the war between our civilisation and your civilisations. I mean the Palestinian cause," said bin Laden.

"The Palestinian cause is the major issue for my (Islamic) nation. It was an important element in fuelling me from the beginning and the 19 others with a great motive to fight for those subjected to injustice and the oppressed," he added.

IntelCenter, a US group that monitors al-Qa'ida message traffic, said the audio message was accompanied by a photo of bin Laden wearing a white robe and turban next to a picture of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. It was unclear when the photo of bin Laden was taken.

The al-Qa'ida leader said the Western media managed to brainwash people over the past 60 years by "portraying the Jewish invaders, the occupiers of our land, as the victims while it portrayed us as the terrorists."

"Sixty years ago, the Israeli state didn't exist. Instead, it was established on the land of Palestine raped by force," said bin Laden. "Israelis are occupying invaders whom we should fight."

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel dismissed bin Laden's new message.

"We do not relate or pay attention to the words of this terrorist lunatic," he said. "The time has come for him to be apprehended and pay for his crimes."

Bin Laden criticised Western leaders like the US president who participated in Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations. Mr Bush feted Israel yesterday and predicted that its 120th birthday would find it alongside a Palestinian state and in an all-democratic region free of today's oppression, restrictions on freedom and extremist Muslim movements.

Bin Laden said Western leaders were insincere in their expressed desire for Israeli-Palestinian peace and failed to criticise Israel for its attacks against the Palestinian people.

"Peace talks that started 60 years ago are just meant to deceive the idiots," said bin Laden. "After all the destruction and the killings ... your leaders talk about principles. This is unbearable."

"You describe Palestinian organisations as terrorists and you boycott them and punish them while Israelis are killing civilians, women and children," he added.

"We will continue our struggle against the Israelis and their allies," said bin Laden. "We are not going to give up an inch of the land of Palestine."

Bin Laden's message followed an audio tape released in March in which he attacked Palestinian peace negotiations with Israel and called for a holy war to liberate the Palestinian lands.