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World leaders condemn Palestinian bomb attacks

By Tim Pearce

LONDON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - World leaders on Sunday condemned Palestinian bomb attacks in Israel that killed 25 people, demanding an end to the violence and urging Palestinian leaders to bring those responsible to justice.

But the head of the militant Islamic Jihad movement hailed the Palestinians for "these great accomplishments", and children in a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut chanted anti-Israeli slogans, danced and cheered at the news. France, Britain, Italy and Russia were quick to denounce the attacks which also wounded 200. Pope John Paul spoke in his Sunday address in Rome of the "painful and worrying news" from the Holy Land.

A suspected suicide bombing on a bus in the northern city of Haifa on Sunday killed at least 15 and wounded dozens. Some 12 hours before, another suicide bomb and a car bomb blast in Jerusalem killed 10 and injured more than 150.

The Palestinian Authority vowed to arrest Islamic Jihad and Hamas militants, but said Israel must help by halting army incursions and killings in Palestinian areas.

"I would like to express my deep emotion at these odious attacks..." French President Jacques Chirac told reporters during an official visit to Morocco.

"This dramatic spiral of violence must be stopped, and will not be (stopped) without dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians," Chirac said. "There will be no security without dialogue, without progress towards peace."

"Men of goodwill...must mobilise their energies so that this dialogue can lead to peace...and that we never see again such dramatic, frightening and reprehensible acts as those of Jerusalem and Haifa," he said.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a statement: "In this difficult moment for my friends the Israeli people, I would like to express my solidarity and that of the Italian government over this new, unheard-of and horrifying expression of violence."

"MEANINGLESS VIOLENCE"

In a separate statement his foreign minister, Renato Ruggiero, denounced "an act of meaningless violence".

In London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in a statement: "The targeting of innocent civilians is beyond contempt and I condemn the attacks absolutely.

"I welcome the pledge by Palestinian leaders to track down those responsible. They must bring the guilty to justice and do everything in their power to prevent further acts of extremist violence," Straw added.

In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko denounced the "...bloody terrorist acts by Palestinian fanatics that took place in Jerusalem on December 1.

"We strongly condemn the organisers of this cruel provocation..." he said, in a statement drawn up before Sunday's bus bomb in Haifa. He urged the Palestinian Authority to arrest and bring to trial those responsible, and said it must halt the activities of terrorists and those who incited violence.

Pope John Paul, in his Sunday homily to pilgrims in Rome, quoted a passage from Isaiah in the Bible -- "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more". He said the words held "a promise for peace which is very contemporary for humanity, in particular in the Holy Land, from where painful and worrying news has come today". In contrast Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, told Beirut-based Manar TV according to the BBC monitoring service: "I would like to congratulate you, the Palestinian people... on these great accomplishments, which bring the spirit of victory and jihad to the entire nation..."

About 200 Palestinian children in the Bourj al-Barajneh refugee camp, in the suburbs of Beirut, danced and cheered at news of the latest bombings in Israel.



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