A bomb exploded on a public bus in Tel Aviv, Israel earlier today, dampening hopes of a Middle East peace agreement. Twenty-four people were injured, and the White House issued a statement calling it a "terrorist attack": "The United States condemns today’s terrorist attack on a bus in Tel Aviv. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those injured, and with the people of Israel. These attacks against innocent Israeli civilians are outrageous. The United States will stand with our Israeli allies, and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack. The United States reaffirms our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in the Middle East now—the NY Times reports that she's met with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem and the Palestinian leaders in the West Bank "before heading to Cairo for talks with the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, whose good relationship with the Hamas government in Gaza has emerged as pivotal to the negotiations. Mrs. Clinton was engaged in intense talks with Mr. Morsi and his aides at Cairo’s presidential offices, officials there said." According to the Washington Post, "Among the main sticking points was whether Egypt and the United States could act as guarantors of a peace deal in a region where waves of aggression have come in vicious cycles."
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has also participated in the meetings; his office issued a statement, "The Secretary-General was shocked at the news of the terror attack on a bus today in the centre of Tel Aviv. He condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms. There are no circumstances that justify the targeting of civilians. The Secretary-General is saddened and expresses his sympathy to those injured in the blast."
Violence in Gaza continues as well—yesterday, Palestinian who allegedly collaborated with Israel were executed, and one's body was dragged through the streets.
Al Jazeera points out, "The last time a bomb blast hit Tel Aviv was in April 2006, when a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 11 people at a sandwich stand near the old central bus station."
Update: Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announced that Israel and Hamas had agreed to a cease-fire that will start at 9 p.m. (2 p.m. EST). Clinton called Egypt a "cornerstone of regional stability and peace."