Attack purposely derail peace process
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U.S. still planning to deliver 'road map' for Mideast peace
Terror attack 'a reminder of how difficult the challenge is going to be'
From John King
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) --The White House is condemning the latest "homicide bombing" in Israel, which Palestinian militant groups say they carried out partly as a message to new Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen.
The militants' message: They won't be disarmed without a political resolution.
Abu Mazen, who will be sworn in Wednesday, has called for an end to terror attacks and for a negotiated settlement with Israel.
A suicide bomber early Wednesday blew himself up at the door of a cafe in Tel Aviv, killing at least three people and wounding about 50 others, authorities said. (Full story)
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told CNN the White House "condemns this homicide bombing in the strongest terms."
"This attack is obviously designed to harm the peace process. We will press forward with our efforts to get the parties back on the path to peace," Fleischer said.
Those efforts include delivery, within the next 24 to 48 hours, of the long-awaited "road map" for Middle East peace -- a document that calls on both the Palestinians and Israelis to take immediate steps to improve security and cooperation, and ultimately envisions a provisional Palestinian state by early 2004 and agreement on an independent permanent Palestinian state by the end of 2005.
The White House delayed publishing the road map until there was a new Palestinian leadership that forced Yasser Arafat to the sidelines. Now that Abu Mazen has been confirmed as the first Palestinian prime minister, the administration believes it has a Palestinian partner committed to peace -- but also a Palestinian leader under enormous pressure not to appear too close to Washington.
Abu Mazen has promised to crack down on terror groups responsible for attacks against Israelis. (Full story)
Secretary of State Colin Powell is to travel to Israel and Gaza next week to discuss the road map with Abu Mazen and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, sources say.
Powell also will be carrying an invitation for Abu Mazen to visit the Bush White House -- an invitation never extended to Arafat because the president did not believe the longtime Palestinian leader was doing enough to crack down on terror groups in the Palestinian territories.