Israel Freezes Handover After Bombing

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz (search) blamed Syria on Saturday for a suicide bombing that killed four Israelis in Tel Aviv, and Israel's Army Radio reported that he also froze plans to hand over security responsibilities in the West Bank to the Palestinians.

Although Mofaz blamed Syria (search) for Friday night's bombing outside a nightclub, he did not immediately threaten retaliation against Israel's northern neighbor.

Speaking at a meeting with defense chiefs, Mofaz said Israeli officials would go abroad in coming days on a diplomatic offensive to present the case against Damascus, a statement from his office said.

"The defense minister ruled that Israel sees Syria and the Islamic Jihad movement as those standing behind the murderous attack in Tel Aviv," the statement said.

Islamic Jihad (search), a Palestinian militant group with links to Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack earlier Saturday.

Also, security officials reportedly suspended the planned handover during an emergency meeting called in the wake of Friday night's attack.

"With all our desire to move ahead with a process to which we are obligated, we cannot carry on and be indifferent to the murderous activities of the terrorist organizations," Mofaz was quoted as saying by Israel's Army Radio.

Israel had pledged to withdraw from five West Bank towns within weeks after a Feb. 8 cease-fire declaration and allow Palestinian security forces to take over. The radio report did not say when the freeze would be lifted.