WASHINGTON – The White House called Wednesday's bombing at Jerusalem's Hebrew University "a horrific act of terror," but said it will not stop the United States from rallying the world to fight against such terrorism.
"The president condemns the attack this morning in Jerusalem in the strongest terms. This is a horrific act of terror," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
The bombing, which killed seven and injured at least 80, occurred at the Frank Sinatra cafeteria of the University. Five Americans were confirmed dead in the attack.
In Gaza, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, labeled a terrorist group by the State Department, linked the bombing to Israel's air strike in Gaza last week that killed Hamas military commander Salah Shehadeh and 14 civilians, including nine children. He also warned Israelis to leave the area unless they want to die in this type of attack.
The bombing came as the administration was embarking on another high-profile step in its efforts to broker a deal under which Israel would live securely beside an independent Palestine.
Bush is scheduled to meet Thursday with Jordan's King Abdullah at the White House. The king is expected to push a more detailed plan to take the Palestinians from elections in January to statehood in three years.
"We need to expedite this target date so that the Israeli occupation can end sooner," Abdullah said Tuesday. He was meeting Wednesday with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Bush said Wednesday that such a step-by-step plan is worth pursuing.
"What's worth pursuing is a detailed plan toward achieving these objectives: a security force that exists to fight terror, not keep certain officials who haven't been able to deliver on the war against terror in office; a security force that will cooperate with people who care about achieving peace, and will provide security not only for the Palestinians, but for the neighborhood," Bush said following a meeting with his Cabinet to discuss economic recovery.
A senior official in the Jordanian government told Fox News that the king and President Bush have an "excellent relationship," although they believe the White House "is feeling its way through" the volatile Middle East situation.
Abdullah was also expected to ask that Washington station international monitors in the area to oversee actions by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and to refrain from attacking Iraq, Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher told reporters Monday.
A U.S. official said Monday that moving the Palestinians toward statehood remains American policy.
Security is of the highest immediate priority, the official said. He said as it is improved -- the Central Intelligence Agency is working on a plan -- Israel will be expected to reciprocate by easing travel restrictions on Palestinians, stop building fences to keep Palestinians out of Israel and return tax revenue that has been collected from them.
Israel and the Palestinians control the pace at which these moves are made, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres also plans to hold talks in Washington on Thursday with Pentagon officials, Rice, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Senate leaders. He flies to New York on Thursday evening for a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Peres met for an hour with the king in Aspen and told him "we are fighting Palestinian terrorism, not the Palestinian people," his spokeswoman, Yaffa ben-Ari, said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, now on a trip to Asia, is making arrangements to meet with Palestinians in Washington on Aug. 5 or Aug. 6.
Fox News' James Rosen and the Associated Press contributed to this report.