The other two victims were Israeli citizens.
“I am just as angry as Israel is. I am furious,” the president said at a press appearance preceding his meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah. He said those behind the bombing were guided by “some kind of false religion” and were trying to sabotage hopes for peace.
The president also declared effective security is his top priority, stating with pointed reference to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat that security must protect citizens and not the “whims” of one man.
He stressed the importance of transparency within the Palestinian Authority, so that “when we try to help the Palestinian people, the money goes to the people.” The president also said he is seeking the help of Arab governments to find those guilty of Wednesday’s bombing.
Despite his anger, the president said he believes there is still hope for peace in the embattled region. King Abdullah echoed his sentiments, stressing the importance of a continued quest for peace and lauding the president’s efforts.
During their meeting, the president and King Abdullah discussed the best tactics for moving the Middle East peace process forward. The king thanked Mr. Bush for his continued efforts to bring peace to the region.
“You have really given us hope that once and for all we will be able to move forward as Arabs and Israelis to be able to live in peace and harmony and have a tremendous future,” the king said.
King Abdullah, whose country has peaceful relations with Israel, also said Arabs and Israelis must cooperate in the quest for peace.
Police reported Thursday that U.S. citizens slain in Wednesday’s bombing included an Israeli-American and a French-American. Four Americans, three South Koreans, and many Arabs and Israelis were among the 80 wounded.
The Hamas military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, which claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s bombing, denied Thursday they are targeting Americans.
“The fighter of Hamas did not ask the students about their identity cards and he can’t do so. He does not know if they are Arab or Israelis. But we are not targeting at all American targets,” Abdel Azziz al-Rantissi, a senior Hamas leader, told Reuters.
Hamas said it organized the blast to avenge the July 22 Israeli strike that killed a top military leader and fourteen others, including nine children.