WASHINGTON – President Bush said he's "furious" about Wednesday's bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which killed five Americans and two Israelis.
But when asked if the deaths of the Americans will be avenged, the White House said only that America remains committed to fighting the war on terror.
The president's remarks came as he met with Jordan's King Abdullah in the Oval Office.
"I'm just as angry as Israel is right now. I'm furious at innocent life lost," Bush said during a photo session with the king. "However, through my fury, even though I am mad, I still believe peace is possible. I know that we can improve the conditions of everybody in the region by, by working toward a vision that is hopeful and optimistic. Again -- not letting the terrorists destroy the possibility of peace."
Abdullah, for his part, stressed a need to move ahead in peacemaking. "You have really given us hope that once and for all we will be able to move forward as Arabs and Israelis to be able to live in peace and harmony and have a tremendous future," he said.
The president's meeting with the Jordanian leader was meant as a platform for Abdullah to press the president for a more detailed plan to take the Palestinians from elections this January to statehood in three years.
Bush is committed to Palestinian statehood in three years and supports U.N. resolutions that would make Israel give up territory the Arabs lost in the 1967 Mideast war in exchange for peace within secure borders.
Bush said before there could be a peace conference, which he said he supports, security to protect Israel and the Palestinians must be installed and democracy, including a constitution, must be brought to the Palestinian people.
"Reform of these institutions are an incredible part of achieving what, I believe, his majesty wants, which is two states living side by side in peace," he said.
As for how to deal with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Bush did not mention him by name but said security can not be at the "whims" of one man.
"There is an action plan going forward, and that's what I'm going to review with his majesty. Step one is to develop a security force that actually serves the people, not a particular leader. A security force must be designed to fight off terror, not designed to serve the whims and interests of one person," he said.
In Gaza, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, linked the bombing at Hebrew University to Israel's air strike in Gaza City last week that killed Hamas military commander Salah Shehadeh and 14 civilians, including nine children.
A State Department spokesman rejected the payback explanation, saying, "There is no justification. It robbed innocent lives."
Bush has warned that America will strike against terrorists who attack Americans. Asked whether the United States planned retaliation, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "The United States is already engaged in a war against terror, and the war will continue."
Later, Bush dropped in on a meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Afterward, Peres said Bush was right in line with Israeli sentiment.
"Basically, we see eye-to-eye," Peres said afterward. "To get rid of terror at large and suicide bombers particularly."
Peres also met Thursday with Rice, Pentagon officials, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to meet with a delegation of Palestinians in Washington next week and is conferring with Palestinian officials over who would be part of it.
Abdullah also was expected to say that the international community opposes the forcible ouster of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, which the United States appears to be planning despite continued denials that a strategy is on the president's desk.
Bush said he would not change his mind on regime change as the best solution to dealing with Iraq because Saddam Hussein poisons his own people, threatens his neighbors and is developing weapons of mass destruction.
As administration officials debate the best plan for dealing with the despot, leaders on Capitol Hill are asking tough questions on a timeline, strategy and post-ouster plan for the country.
Fox News' James Rosen and the Associated Press contributed to this report.