Hopes for peace between Israelis and Palestinians faced a setback on August 19th when a Palestinian suicide terrorist set off a bomb on a crowded bus in Jerusalem, killing at least twenty people. More than one-hundred were wounded. Many of those killed or wounded were children.
Responsibility for the suicide attack was claimed by two terrorist groups, Palestine Islamic Jihad and Hamas. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said terrorists cannot be allowed to block progress toward peace:
"We cannot let it go off track. We will continue to move forward on the road map. We will continue to do everything we can, both as the United States of America, but also working with the Russian Federation, European Union, and the United Nations, as well as working with leaders in the region -- Arab leaders in the region and with [Israeli] Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon and [Palestinian Authority] Prime Minister [Mahmoud] Abbas and all others who are committed to working for peace to come together."
Secretary of State Powell stressed that there is no alternative to the road map for peace:
"At the end of the road map is a cliff that both sides will fall off of. I believe both parties understand that a way has to be found to go forward. The alternative is what? Just more death and destruction? Let the terrorists win? Let those who have no interest in a Palestinian state win? Let those who have no interest but killing innocent people win? No, that is not an acceptable outcome."
If peace is ever to come to the Middle East, said Secretary of State Powell, terrorism must end:
"It has to end. The Palestinian people, the Israeli people deserve better. And those who are determined to blow up the road map must not be allowed to succeed."
The U.S. is determined to help Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas root out terrorist groups trying to wreck the movement toward peace. As President George W. Bush said, "Ending terror must be the highest priority, and all parties -- the Palestinians, the Israelis, and partners in the region -- must work immediately to end terror and keep the path open for peace."