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Bush 'Deeply Troubled' by Israeli Attack on Hamas Leader - 2003-06-10

President Bush is criticizing Israel's attempt to kill a top official of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Bush administration officials are discussing Tuesday's attacks with both Israeli and Palestinian diplomats.

President Bush says he is troubled by Israel's attempt to assassinate a senior Hamas official because the violence could make it harder to fight terrorism.

"I regret the loss of innocent life. I am concerned that the attacks will make it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to fight off terrorist attacks. I also don't believe the attacks helped Israeli security," he said.

The president says his national security team has been in contact with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials about Tuesday's helicopter strikes. He again called on all sides to abide by a power-sharing deal meant to lead toward a separate Palestinian state by 2005.

"I am determined to keep the process on the road to peace and I believe with responsible leadership by all parties, we can bring peace to the region. And I emphasize all parties must behave responsibly to achieve that objective," he said.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the president stands by Israel's right to self-defense but believes Israel must act on that right "in a manner that is consistent with larger objectives."

In this case, Mr. Fleischer says, the attacks are "deeply troubling" given the progress necessary to make the peace plan work.

"Neither party can afford to take actions that derail the "road map" because it is too important to the peace and security and the well-being of the Israeli people and the Palestinian people. And that's why the president finds this deeply troubling," he said.

It was less than a week ago that Mr. Bush met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to discuss the so-called road map for peace. Mr. Fleischer says the president is still optimistic that the plan can work if both sides commit to the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace.