PARIS – Foreign leaders strongly condemned the suicide bombing that killed 17 Israelis, but urged Israel's government not to be swayed from seeking a peaceful resolution of its conflict with Palestinians.
"The French government fervently condemns such blind and murderous acts," French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said in a statement Saturday. He called on all parties "to do everything they can to stop the spiral of violence."
In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the bombing was obviously aimed at disrupting peace efforts and deserved "the worst condemnation and indignation."
"Under these conditions, patience and calm are needed," the statement added. "One should not allow the provocations of the extremists, no matter how severe, destroy the plans to de-escalate the crisis, stop violence and establish a political dialogue between Palestine and Israel."
Australia's prime minister, John Howard, said he "was appalled to learn this morning of the terrorist outrage overnight against innocent civilians in Tel Aviv."
"Both sides need to act decisively and with courage to prevent a further decline into senseless violence," he said. "The only solution is one arrived at through dialogue between the parties, in which terrorist violence plays no part."
The European Union condemned the bombing "in the strongest possible terms." The 15-nation EU urged "the Palestinian Authority to do everything within its power to prevent terrorist attacks and to bring those responsible to justice."
The bloc urged Israel "not to take measures which result in a further escalation of the cycle of violence."
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder strongly condemned the bombing, but called on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to continue peace negotiations.
"I ask you, Mr. Prime Minister, in view of the horrifying act not to be talked out of efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict," Schroeder wrote in a message to Sharon. "I also call on the Palestinian side to do everything to prevent such attacks."
President Bush called the bombing a "heinous terrorist attack" and demanded Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat condemn such acts.
"There is no justification for senseless attacks against innocent civilians," Bush said in a statement Friday night.
The statement did not blame Arafat directly for the bombing, but it also did not include the customary U.S. call for restraint by both sides.