The President. Good morning. Today's bombing by terrorists in Jerusalem was a barbarous act. There is no excuse and there must be no tolerance for this kind of inhumanity. The slaughter was aimed directly at innocent Israelis. And make no mistake, it was also aimed at the majority of Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs who want a lasting and just peace.
The only answer can and must be concrete steps by the Palestinian Authority to increase security operations and the strengthening of security cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis and a deepened determination by both Palestinians and Israelis to pursue peace. Only when a lasting and secure peace is achieved will the enemies of peace be defeated.
I have just spoken to Prime Minister Netanyahu. I told him the hearts and prayers of Americans are with him, the people of Israel, and the victims of the attack and their families.
I have nothing further to say about this except to say, again, we must not let the enemies of peace prevail. There must be increased security operations, increased security cooperation, and a continuing commitment that is deep into the peace process.
Q. Mr. President, what kind of security could have guarded against these two people who apparently were willing to kill themselves in order to do this damage?
The President. Well, I can't answer that, but I do know that there have been long periods when the security operations have succeeded. And if these people were part of larger networks, there may well be something else that can be done, but I don't obviously know the facts of this specific case. We can't say whether any action by the Palestinian Authority, for example, could have stopped this bombing, but we can say, from our observations, that there could be increased security activity and cooperation.
Q. Will you try to reach Chairman Arafat, and what publicly do you expect him to do in the wake of this explosion?
The President. Well, he's already talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I would expect him to say in public what he said to him in private. And I would expect there to be increased security activity and increased security cooperation.
Q. Mr. President, how long will the Dennis Ross trip be postponed, and what specific new steps will he bring from the United States trying to revive the peace process?
The President. I think it's inappropriate to discuss the second part of your question at this moment, but the trip will be postponed for a period—an appropriate period of mourning.
Q. Mr. President, do you think that it's time for either you or the Secretary of State to become personally involved? There has been a lot of criticism that the United States hasn't been——
The President. First of all, I think the suggestion that we've not been personally involved is just false. But certainly——
Q. In a public way, though.
The President. Well, I believe, and I think that the record will bear this out—I believe—my personal involvement has been continuing and intense in this. But I know of no example in recent history where peace is made by third parties trying to be helpful making public statements alone. I believe the way I'm doing this is the most effective way. But you should not conclude for a moment that the White House has not been intimately and intensely and continuously involved in this peace process, particularly as it has gotten more difficult.
Sources: Public Papers of the President