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France/Palestine/Israel

Sarkozy condemns al-Mabhuh killing

Sarkozy and Abbas at the press conference at the Elysée Palace
Sarkozy and Abbas at the press conference at the Elysée Palace

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday unreservedly condemned the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmud al-Mabhuh. Sarkozy was speaking after meeting Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in Paris.

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"It's an irrevocable condemnation," Sarkozy said at a joint press conference with Abbas. "This kind of event can only increase tensions."

Sarkozy declared that  "nothing can justify these methods" and reminded reporters that the French Foreign Ministry had spoken to an Israeli diplomat "over the use of a fake French passport in this affair".

But he stopped short of explicitly blaming Israel for the killing.

"An inquiry is underway," he said. "As the President [Mahmud Abbas] has said, let's wait to see who is behind this, did anyone order it and, if so, who?"

European foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, also "strongly condemned" the assassination without naming Israel.

They were meeting as Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited the Belgian capital. 

Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in the West Bank town of Hebron over plans to restore two Jewish holy sites in the occupied territory. A strike closed down shops and schools.

On Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he hoped to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem in plan to restore heritage sites.

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