When a suicide bomber sent to Tel Aviv by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Islamic Jihad detonated a bomb at a crowded restaurant on April 17, an Israeli woman was torn apart in front of her two young daughters and husband. The abstractions of Mideast power politics must not be allowed to obscure the suffering of the innocent in such an atrocity.

It is in the nature of a vendetta that both sides try to justify as retaliation the acts that otherwise would stand as sheer murder. Whether innocent civilians are murdered by states, by their proxies, or by stateless terrorist groups, the threat is the same. The murders rip away at the civilised conventions that protect the innocent.

The crime must be denounced. Those who boasted of the crime or rationalised it as resistance to Israeli aggression — as did Islamic Jihad, the Hamas and Iran — must also be denounced as murderers or accessories to murder.

The only way to prevent a descent into the inferno of a vendetta is to pursue a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Large majorities of both Palestinians

and Israelis tell pollsters they want a negotiated two-state solution to their conflict. If there is no progress toward a negotiated peace, there will be regression toward the barbarism of the vendetta.