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Egypt Condemns Israeli Attack Tuesday in Gaza - 2003-06-11

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak Wednesday condemned Israel's attempt to assassinate a leader of the Islamic militant movement, Hamas. Egyptian officials say such actions threaten not only the new peace initiative but also talks they are holding to broker a truce among Palestinian factions.

After talks with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Cairo, President Mubarak told reporters that the Israeli attack couldn't have come at a worse time.

Mr. Mubarak called the assault shocking. He said U.S. officials had urged both Israel and the Palestinians to avoid reprisals as the new peace initiative, known as the "road map," is being initiated.

He added that Egypt is actively working to broker a cease-fire among Palestinian factions in a bid to quell the violence. He said such actions threaten talks, which are currently underway.

Egyptian security chief Omar Suleiman is in the West Bank meeting with Palestinian officials.

Italy's Prime Minister Berlusconi, whose country soon takes the rotating presidency of the European Union, urged Israel to show greater wisdom.

He said that even if Israel's reaction is understood, it must demonstrate greater wisdom and prudence. Mr. Berlusconi came under criticism by the Arab press for failing to condemn the attack during a visit to Jordan Tuesday.

Jordanian newspapers have accused Israel of reactivating the cycle of violence by trying to assassinate Hamas political leader Abdul Aziz al-Rantissi Tuesday in a helicopter raid in Gaza City that left the militant wounded.

The Jordan Times says such actions will only strengthen Hamas and play into the hands of extremist groups. The Al-Rai newspaper, meanwhile, accuses Israel of not only targeting Hamas, but also of undermining the effectiveness of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Gulf Arab newspapers echoed much of the same language and tone Wednesday. They argued that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has dealt a devastating blow to the Mideast peace road map with the attack.