Israeli medics stand near a damaged bus at the scene of an explosion in Jerusalem on March 23. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the bombing in Jerusalem today, as well as the rockets and mortars fired from Gaza in recent days. Together with the American people, I offer my deepest condolences for those injured or killed.   There is never any possible justification for terrorism. The United States calls on the groups responsible to end these attacks at once and we underscore that Israel, like all nations, has a right to self-defense.  We also express our deepest condolences for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza yesterday.  We stress the importance of calm and urge all parties to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties.

The statement comes hours after the explosion killed a middle-aged woman and wounded dozens of others.

In his statement, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) took a swipe at the administration over the policy it has pursued in the region:

The Administration has called on Israel to make sweeping concessions that I believe will endanger its  security, but it doesn’t seem to demand similar from the Palestinians. That’s why I support bipartisan efforts in the House and Senate that call on the White House to put an end to anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian territories. No matter how much we desire Mideast peace, it will remain a pipe dream so long as Palestinian culture makes martyrs of  terrorists who target innocents.

In his statement, Cantor also called the bombings “a chilling reminder of the obstacles Israel faces,” going on to say that “this kind of violence does not emerge in a vacuum; it is incubated through education and nurtured by popular culture.”

The bombings come three days after another Republican, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, paid a visit to the Western Wall. (Photos)

Read the full report on the bombing and join the discussion. And read more about the president’s early return from his trip to El Salvador.

This post has been updated since it was first published.