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Bush condemns 'terrible' Jerusalem bombing

From John King
CNN Washington Bureau

President Bush condemned
President Bush condemned "in the strongest possible terms' the suicide blast in Jerusalem Wednesday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush condemned the "terrible bombing" of a Jerusalem bus Wednesday and urged countries to isolate "those who hate so much that they're willing to kill" to block peace efforts.

Speaking in Chicago, Bush urged those who support a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "to fight off terror" and cut off funds to Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas, which claimed responsibility for Wednesday's suicide bombing.

"It is clear there are people in the Middle East who hate peace," Bush said in a brief statement to reporters. "There are people who want to kill in order to make sure that the desires of Israel to live in secure peace don't happen, who kill to make sure the desires of the prime minister from the Palestinian Authority and others of a peaceful state living side by side with Israel do not happen."

Bush was in Chicago on a domestic policy trip as the events unfolded, and was being updated by traveling senior aides. At the White House, officials said senior National Security Council aides were calling Israeli and Palestinian officials, as were senior State Department officials.

"I urge and call upon all the free world -- nations which love peace -- to not only condemn the killings, but to use every ounce of their power to prevent them from happening in the future," Bush said.

At least 16 people were killed in Wednesday's bombing in Jerusalem. Shortly afterward, Israel launched another round of helicopter gunships attacks against targets in Gaza, killing two Hamas militants and five others. (Full story)

The escalating violence will test Bush's commitment to dedicate whatever energy and time it takes to keep the fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace dialogue from again collapsing. And Bush administration officials said it is critical that Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas "show results" in his stated effort to halt Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

"The Palestinians and all parties must fight terror," a U.S. official involved in national security matters told CNN in the wake of the suicide bus bombing. "The road map is a results-based approach to moving things forward and we need to see results. Prime Minister Abbas must show results."

That language was a reflection of mounting questions about whether Abbas' approach to trying to negotiate with Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups has any chance of success.

The White House has said it cannot dictate to Abbas and tell him how to handle security, but as Bush's recent peacemaking efforts were threatened Wednesday, the U.S. official said, "Negotiation is not a substitute for disarming and dismantling terror organizations."

U.S. officials also continued to voice exasperation at Israel's helicopter attack on a senior Hamas official. Bush and top aides said that assault made it far more difficult for Abbas to persuade Hamas and other militant groups to halt attacks.

"It was absolutely the worst possible moment," said a second U.S. official.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan was at the White House for meetings and then traveled to the State Department to see Secretary of State Colin Powell. The United Nations is one of the members of the Mideast Quartet that drafted the Middle East peace road map, along with the United States, Russia and the European Union.

Annan issued a statement urging "the leaders of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples not to be deterred from the path to peace" and to react with restraint to Wednesday's violence.


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