EU states finalize deal on Nativity Church deportees; Israel says it foiled additional Palestinian attacks

Published May 20th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

Spain said Monday a deal had been reached on the fate of 13 Palestinian activists taken temporarily to Cyprus to end the siege of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.  

 

Speaking at the sidelines of a Mediterranean conference on the island of Mykonos, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique said 12 of the 13 would be taken by Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Ireland and Portugal and one would stay on in Cyprus.  

 

"I can confirm that tomorrow a Spanish plane will be in Cyprus and distribute the people to different countries," said Pique.  

 

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said the plane would leave Cyprus on Wednesday, dropping off two of the Palestinians in Athens on the way to Madrid. "We expect them in Athens on Wednesday," Papandreou said. Spain and Italy are expected to take three each, two are to go to Ireland, while Belgium and Portugal are expected to host one each. The plane is likely to also land in Rome on the way to Madrid, a Greek foreign ministry official said, according to AP

 

The 13 have been held in a hotel in the Cyprus resort of Larnaca for more than a week since being exiled at the end of 39-day Israeli siege of the Church of the Nativity. 

 

Meanwhile, the Israeli army arrested a young Palestinian woman in Tulkarem Monday afternoon, on suspicion that she was planning to carry out a suicide bombing inside Israel, Israel Radio reported.  

 

The woman, 26-year-old Ta'ura Hamur, was detained by soldiers, who raided the town. Hamur, a resident of Jaba in northern West Bank, is suspected of being a Fatah member, who was planning a suicide attack "in the immediate future," said Israeli security sources.  

 

Earlier, Israeli officials said Palestinian activists planned to use a ton of explosives in a bomb attack that would have targeted the twin Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv, Israel's tallest buildings. 

 

The attack was thwarted by Israeli troops three weeks ago in a raid on a Palestinian town in the West Bank, said a senior army officer, who appeared together with Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at a closed-door session of parliament's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, according to AP

 

The plan was to blow up a truck loaded with the explosives in the underground parking lot of the 50-story towers, just like in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, the official was quoted as saying. (Albawaba.com)

© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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