President Clinton on Tuesday dispatched sophisticated bomb-detection equipment and anti-terrorist specialists to help Israel combat assaults by Muslim extremists.
The administration announced its package of support as the White House sought to show solidarity with Israel and save Middle East peace talks suspended after four terrorist bombing attacks killed 57 people in nine days.
“These are desperate and fanatic acts aimed not just at killing innocent people, including innocent children, but at killing the growing prospects for peace in the Middle East. They must not succeed,” Clinton said.
“The United States has always stood for the people of Israel through good times and bad, and we stand with them today,” Clinton said during remarks to the National Association of Counties.
The president later reiterated his support in remarks broadcast on Israeli television, expressing his “deepest sorrow and strongest outrage” to the people of Israel.
“Those responsible for these vicious crimes thrive on division and conflict. They know the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians have chosen the path of peace. With every new step taken along that path, the enemies of peace grow more desperate. We must not allow their hatred to turn us back to the past,” Clinton said.
A Palestinian terrorist with a bomb strapped to his body killed 14 and injured 130 in the shopping district of Tel Aviv on Monday. The latest incident heightened pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whose peace overtures are being undermined by the suicide bombers.
In his address to the Israelis, Clinton said, “Chairman Arafat knows that his leadership and the hopes of the Palestinian people are under direct challenge. He must do everything possible to end this campaign of terror.”
The president was to attend a memorial service for the victims Tuesday night at the Israeli Embassy.
He began the day by ordering the immediate emergency transfer to Israel of bomb detection equipment described as more sophisticated than what is used routinely at U.S. airports.
U.S. specialists were also dispatched to work with the Israelis on strengthening anti-terrorist measures. Administration officials refused to provide further information about the “specialists” other than to describe them as government employees and imply they had expertise in the area of intelligence.
Clinton announced he was ordering the development of a comprehensive package of training, technical assistance and equipment to improve anti-terrorist cooperation among Israelis, Palestinians and other governments in the region.