President Bush has condemned the latest suicide bombing in Jerusalem. The blast ripped off the roof and sides of a commuter bus filled with children and office workers, leaving 19 Israelis dead and dozens more injured. This new violence comes as the president prepares to unveil a plan for moving the Mideast peace process forward.
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said the president condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms. "These terrorists who attack and kill innocent men, women and children are the enemy of peace, and they are trying to disrupt our efforts," Mr. McClellan said.
But Mr. McClellan said they will not succeed. He said the president continues to work on his Mideast peace plan, and an announcement could come at any time. "He indicated last week that he would have more to say, and he wanted to share that with the American people. And I expect something soon on that," he said.
He also refused to speculate on the content of the plan, even though details are circulating in the American, Israeli and Egyptian press.
There are indications President Bush may talk about steps toward the creation of a Palestinian state, not a timetable, but perhaps a series of conditions that must be met along the way. He could bring up the issue of Israeli settlements, the need for continued reforms in the Palestinian authority and prospects for an international peace conference.
Mr. McClellan said only that the president continues to believe in the ultimate goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace.
In a speech Tuesday on housing policy, Mr. Bush alluded briefly to the Middle East situation. He said he remains committed to a vision of peace in the region. "We are going to be steadfast toward a vision that rejects terror and killing and honors peace and hope," Mr. Bush said.
The president's last major address on the Middle East was on April fourth. In a hastily arranged appearance in the White House Rose Garden, he called on all parties to live up to their responsibilities: the Palestinians, the Israelis and the leaders of nearby Arab states.