Pressure builds on Abu Mazen to fight terror

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The Independent Online

At the moment the suicide bomber blew himself up in Jerusalem last night the Palestinian Prime Minister, Abu Mazen, was in a meeting with leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas attempting to reinforce the fragile ceasefire.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to al-Manar TV. Hamas also claimed responsibility. The attack was in response to the killing of the Islamic Jihad leader in Hebron last week and "the crimes of the Zionist occupation", in the words of Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, a Hamas spokesman. Both militant organisations named the bomber as Raid Misk, from Hebron.

Israel is now certain to step up pressure on Abu Mazen "to dismantle the terror organisations". The Palestinian Prime Minister cannot win. If he yields to Israeli pressure, he will be seen as an Israeli agent and lose his political credibility with the Palestinian people.

If he does not, the ceasefire will collapse and, eventually, so will the road-map.

Abu Mazen insists on achieving the ceasefire without using violence against Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but he needs full co-operation from the Israeli side. "This operation is the most serious threat to the ceasefire,'' said the Fatah leader, Hatem Abdel Qader.