Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has vowed to continue what he describes as a "holy war" against Israel. VOA's Jim Teeple reports the message, purportedly from bin Laden, came in an audio tape timed to coincide with Israel's 60th anniversary.

In his latest message al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden vows to continue fighting against Israel and its allies, saying Israel is at the center of the Muslim battle against the West, and served as the inspiration for those who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Bin Laden criticized international leaders like US President George Bush who came to Israel to celebrate its 60th anniversary and he said the celebrations are a reminder that Israel occupies Muslim lands and should be fought as long as there are Muslims left on earth.

The authenticity of the message could not be verified but it was posted on a Web site commonly used by jihadist groups and experts say the voice on it closely resembles those of past recordings of Osama bin Laden.

Israeli officials are dismissing the message.

"We do not really pay attention to the threats of a crazy terrorist. The time has come too for him to be caught and punished for all his crimes," said Aryeh Mekel, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry.

The tape is the first reported Bin Laden message since March when the terrorist leader condemned peace talks between Israel and the moderate Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas.

The release of the tape came just as President Bush wrapped up a largely ceremonial visit to Israel to help commemorate the country's 60th anniversary. Mr. Bush who will meet with Mr. Abbas on Saturday in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh largely avoided discussing the Israeli-Palestinian dispute but he did say he envisioned a day in the future when Israel and a Palestinian state would live side-by-side in peace in a region ruled by democratic states.