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Sharon threatens to freeze peace efforts
Updated: 2005-02-27 16:30

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Sunday that peace efforts with the Palestinians would be frozen if they do not crack down on militant groups. His comments followed a suicide bombing that killed four people outside a Tel Aviv nightclub Friday night.

"There will be no progress politically, and I repeat no political progress, until the Palestinians carry out a determined campaign to destroy the terrorist groups and their infrastructure in the Palestinian territories," Sharon said before his weekly Cabinet meeting.

Israel has repeatedly demanded the Palestinians dismantle militant groups, but new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has opted instead to pursue a temporary truce agreement with the groups, saying a violent crackdown could lead to a civil war.

Abbas accused a "third party" of orchestrating Friday's attack to sabotage his and Sharon's new efforts at ending more than four years of violence between their people. Palestinian security officials blamed the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran.

The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which has members in Lebanon and Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack.

"The attack was carried out by the Islamic Jihad on the order from Islamic Jihad officials in Syria. We know this for certain," Sharon said.

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