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Bush: Search for Mideast Peace to Continue Despite Violence - 2002-07-31

U.S. President George W. Bush says he condemns the bombing at Jerusalem's Hebrew University that left seven dead and more than 80 wounded in the strongest possible terms. Mr. Bush makes clear those who seek to subvert the peace process through violence will not succeed.

This time the target was a university cafeteria where students were gathering for a break.

The president's response was one of anger and determination. "He said, "I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms the attack that took place in Israel."

Mr. Bush said the perpetrators hate the thought of peace, and took that hatred out on a university campus. He said America sends its sympathies to the students and their families. He then stressed that the terrorists will not succeed and the search for peace will go on.

"They will not stop us from rallying the world to fight their kind of terror," said Mr. Bush. "Nor will they stop us from having a vision of peace."

The university attack occurred as the White House was preparing for talks Thursday between the president and Jordan's King Abdullah. The president stressed he wants all parties in the region to do more to stop terrorist attacks.

"I look forward to continuing to work with all responsible parties in the region, starting to insist that they work with us to stop this terror - using all their power to stop organizations such as Hamas from taking innocent life," Mr. Bush said.

Hamas has claimed responsibility for the university bombing. The militant group said it was an act of revenge for an Israeli air attack last week in Gaza City that killed its military chief and 14 Palestinian civilians.

The president stressed he wants the Palestinian Authority to take stronger action to stop the violence.

When asked about prospects for a Mideast peace conference and Jordanian requests to step up the timetable for Palestinian statehood, Mr. Bush replied that reforms must come first. He said there must be a security force willing and able to fight terror, and democratic reforms within the Palestinian leadership.

"Reform of these institutions is an incredible part of achieving what I believe his majesty wants, which is two states living side by side in peace," he said.

President Bush has talked about the possibility of a Palestinian state in three years, if certain conditions are met. But King Abdullah said Tuesday that the world must act quickly to translate the dream of a state into reality.