The attack targeted the trendy Tel Aviv beachfront near the U.S. embassy, reports CBS News Correspondent Robert Berger, turning a cafe into a wreck of broken glass and furniture. Pools of blood covered the sidewalk. But it could have been much worse: a security guard prevented the bomber from entering the restaurant, where the casualty toll would have been much higher.
The bombing underscored the difficulties Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas will face in disarming Palestinian militias — a key obligation in the first stage of the three-phase "roadmap" to Palestinian statehood that is to be unveiled by Washington in the coming days.
Terje Larsen, the United Nations envoy to the Middle East, told reporters in the West Bank town of Ramallah the "road map" would be presented to Abbas at 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday.
"There's no room for weapons except in the hands of the government," Abbas said Tuesday after his confirmation. "The armed chaos must end."
Israel says it will judge Abbas by what he does, not by what he says.
"No road map or no plan can go forward as long as there isn't a clearcut and definite action on the part of the new Palestinian prime minister to put an end to violence and terror," said government spokesman Jonathan Peled.
A militia tied to Abbas' own Fatah movement claimed responsibility, along with the Islamic militant group Hamas. A spokesman for the Fatah-linked militia, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, told The Associated Press the attack was a message to the new prime minister that "nobody can disarm the resistance movements without a political solution."
"This is the first test of the new Palestinian government and so far it is an utter failure," said Israeli spokesman Dore Gold.
Arriving at the West Bank headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat ahead of his swearing-in ceremony, Abbas said, "We condemn this attack strongly."
In his inaugural speech to the Palestinian parliament Tuesday, Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, hinted at a future crackdown on militias, saying that "the unauthorized possession of weapons ... is a major concern that will be relentlessly addressed."
Israeli Cabinet Minister Dan Naveh said the bombing indicated that "there are still many factions within the PLO and the Fatah that are interested in continuing the attacks.
"As long as Abu Mazen is in his position but Arafat continues to go behind his back and encourages the terror, we will not see a change," Naveh told Israel Radio.
The bomber struck on Tel Aviv's seaside promenade at about 1 a.m., blowing himself up outside Mike's Place, a pub and restaurant popular with foreigners and just a few yards from the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy.
A security guard stopped the bomber at the entrance to the crowded pub. The guard was badly wounded.
The pub's owner, Gal Ganzman, his shirt covered with blood, said he was standing behind the bar when he heard the explosion. "I'm alive, I'm fine," he said. "One of the waitresses lost an arm but she's still alive."
Three bystanders and the bomber were killed, and 55 people wounded, police and hospital officials said. Twenty people remained hospitalized later Wednesday, including six who were in serious condition.
The attack was clearly timed to send the new Palestinian prime minister a message that militant groups will not tolerate a crackdown, reports Berger. The militants say they will not lay down their arms, and attacks against Israel will continue until the occupation ends. Abbas may want to crack down, but he may not be able to.
It was the 89th suicide bombing targeting Israelis in the past 31 months. Since September 2000, 2,287 people have been killed on the Palestinian side, and 763 people on the Israeli side.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Nancy Beck said that "there can be no excuse for the violence and terrorist attacks the Israeli people have been forced to endure." She said the U.S. goal is a Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel.
In other violence Wednesday, Israeli troops shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian near the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. Late Tuesday night, two armed Palestinians were shot dead by settlers after they opened fire on a small outpost near the West Bank settlement of Elon Moreh.
In Gaza, the army said it fired on the Palestinian after spotting someone crawling near an army post in an area that is off limits to Palestinians. The man was not identified.
In the settler attack, the army said that the two Palestinians were armed with hand grenades and assault rifles. The radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack.
Abbas' swearing-in ceremony at Arafat's compound underscored Arafat's continuing influence despite U.S. and Israeli efforts to sideline him. In a reminder of that power, Arafat's office announced Wednesday that it was naming Erekat as head of the negotiation department for the PLO, a position formerly held by Abbas.
The United States and Israel have been boycotting Arafat, whom they accuse of abetting terrorism, and have welcomed the appointment of Abbas.
Tuesday's 51-18 parliament vote in favor of Abbas, with three abstentions, capped some six weeks of wrangling during which Arafat objected to key Abbas appointments. A last-minute compromise granted key positions to a number of Arafat confidants.
Abbas' balancing act will include cracking down on militants without triggering civil war, easing powers away from Arafat without being accused of betraying a national symbol, and re-establishing trust with Israel without abandoning bedrock positions.
In a speech to legislators, Abbas said the Palestinians accepted the "road map" as it is.
The plan calls for an immediate cease-fire, a crackdown on Palestinian militias, an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian towns and the dismantling of Jewish settlements erected since 2001. A Palestinian state with provisional borders could be established by year's end and full statehood within three years.