JERUSALEM – Israeli officials on Sunday rejected British Prime Minister Tony Blair's (search) contention that conflict in the Middle East is one of the underlying causes of terror, saying the London bombings are part of a wider terror war being waged against Western countries.
Israeli officials have long stressed the global nature of terror, apparently wary that a connection between attacks on Western countries and Middle East (search) policy could increase pressure on Israel to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians.
Israeli Vice Premier Ehud Olmert (search) said Sunday that "the terrorists operating in London last week were doing it as part of a comprehensive terrorist war against the Western civilization similar to what they've done in America, similar to what they've done in Spain."
Cabinet Minister Matan Vilnai said Western democracies, including Israel, are being targeted by terror. "We are part of it and the whole free world is now part of it," he said.
In a weekend interview on British Broadcasting Corp. Radio, Blair said it was crucial to address terrorism's underlying causes, which he identified as deprivation, lack of democracy and ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
"I think this type of terrorism has very deep roots. As well as dealing with the consequences of this — trying to protect ourselves as much as any civil society can — you have to try to pull it up by its roots," Blair said.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Blair had "touched reality and spoke strategically of the need to deal with the problems of this region."