The deadly attack near the West Bank city of Hebron, killing four Israeli citizens, proves just hot far the enemies of peace will go to block diplomatic progress, a White House statement said Thursday.
Four Israelis were shot dead in their car yesterday near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba less than a day before Israeli and Palestinian leaders meet in Washington for a summit to announce the resumption of direct peace talks.
In a statement released just hours later, the White House said the United States condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms," saying it had also noted that "the Palestinian Authority has condemned this attack."
"On the eve of the re-launch of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, this brutal attack underscores how far the enemies of peace will go to try to block progress," the statement said, urging the "parties persevere, keep moving forward even through difficult times, and continue working to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region that provides security for all peoples."
The White House condemnation also expressed the United States' "condolences to the victims’ families and call for the terrorists behind this horrific act to be brought to justice."
The official response came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said prior to her meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the attack was a "savage brutality" that had "no place in any country under any circumstances."
"The forces of terror and destruction cannot be allowed to continue. It is one of the reasons why the prime minister is here today, to engage in direct negotiations with those Palestinians who have rejected a path of violence in favor of a path of peace," Clinton said.
Netanyahu said he would insist in the face-to-face talks with Abbas that security arrangements in any final peace deal would enable Israel "to confront this kind of terror and other threats."
"We will not let terror decide where Israelis live or the configuration of our final borders. These and other issues will be determined in negotiations for peace that we are conducting," Netanyahu said with Clinton at his side.
Earlier Tuesday, Hamas' armed wing released a statement saying the "Qassam Brigades announces its full responsibility for the heroic operation in Hebron."
"Hamas praises the attack and regards it as a natural response to the crimes of the occupation," said Sami Abu-Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, adding that the attack was proof "of a failure of security coordination" between Israel and the Palestinians.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, opposes the peace talks starting in Washington on Wednesday and is not taking part.
Hamas' military wing said it would carry out more operations after claiming responsibility for the shooting.
"This attack is a chain in a series of attacks, some have been executed, and others will follow," Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the group, told Reuters.
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