Egyptian leaders say the assassination of Palestinian Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin marks an end to the Middle East peace process. Arab leaders say the killing will have severe consequences throughout the region.
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak announced immediately that he is canceling a visit to Israel by a delegation of Egyptian legislators. The trip had been planned for Tuesday to mark the 25th anniversary of the peace treaty between the two countries. Mr. Mubarak said the assassination of the wheelchair-bound Hamas founder has aborted the peace process and will have widespread effects on the entire region.
Britain, Jordan and several key Palestinian leaders were among the first to condemn the killing. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei called it a dangerous and cowardly act that opens the door wide to chaos.
Arab League spokesman Hossam Zaki, who is in Tunis preparing for the Arab League summit, which begins later this week, called it a personification of terrorism by the Israeli government. He said the death will cast a shadow over the meeting between Arab foreign ministers and will have a strong effect on any chances of reviving the peace process.
A spokesman for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat's Fatah faction, called for war and vowed a response attack against Israel within hours.
The leader of Egypt's banned radical Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, also issued a warning, saying, "There can be no life for the Americans and Zionists in the region" and "We will not rest until [Israelis] are expelled.
In a statement on the Arab satellite television Al-Jazeera, Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah condemned what he said were deaf and blind Arab leaders who only speak to defend Israel. He also said the Palestinian people are being strangled by Israel.
Universities in Cairo prepared to stage demonstrations to protest the Hamas leader's death, triggering the deployment of Egyptian riot police. In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, but diplomatic relations between the two countries have remained chilly for many years.