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White House Condemns Israel's  'Targeted Killings' - 2001-08-01

The Bush Administration says it opposes all violence in the Middle East, including targeted attacks. At a time of rising tensions in the region, the White House is urging all parties to cease hostilities.

On a day when Palestinians took to the streets to mourn eight people killed in an Israeli air strike in the West Bank city of Nablus, the Bush administration is picking its words carefully.

At the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher condemned the practice of targeted killings, but added the administration hopes the fragile Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire can be rescued. He said U.S. concerns were relayed directly to Israeli officials by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer also chose his words carefully. "The United States," he said, "has called on all parties to exercise restraint and to preserve what we hope can be a cease-fire, that includes opposition to a policy of targeted attacks."

The victims of Tuesday's Israeli air strike included two leaders of Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, and two small children. The Israeli government expressed regret over the deaths of the children, but reaffirmed its determination to target militants for attack.

When asked if the White House planned to take any action to help stop the violence, Mr. Fleischer said only that the United States will stay involved in the peace process. "The president," he noted, "is going to continue to work with all the parties in the Middle East, so too is Secretary Powell, in an effort to facilitate the peace."

President Bush spoke on Tuesday with Jordan's King Abdullah. Mr. Fleischer said the president has not spoken either to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in recent days.