In the first of a series of conferences with leaders of Middle Eastern countries, President George W. Bush met with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Mr. Bush said that he remains "committed to the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security":
(ACT1 :08 - DALET: POLICY/ACTUALITIES) "The prime minister and I reaffirmed our commitment to that vision and to the roadmap as the only way forward to realize it."
Mr. Bush praised Israeli prime minister Sharon for his decision to withdraw eight-thousand Israeli settlers from the Gaza strip. But he said the U.S. opposes Israel's plans to build three-thousand-five-hundred homes in Maaleh Adumin, in the West Bank:
"The Prime Minister made a very courageous decision to withdraw from Gaza, and now I would hope, as I said in my statement, the Palestinians accept his proposal to coordinate the withdrawal so that we can begin the stages necessary for a viable democracy to emerge, one that will be peaceful, one that will listen to the aspirations of the people. . . .But there is a road map, there is a process, and we've all agreed to it. And part of that process, no expansion of settlements. . . .I've told the prime minister of my concern that Israel not undertake any activity that contravenes road map obligations or prejudices final status negotiations. Therefore Israel should remove unauthorized outposts and meet it's road map obligations regarding settlements in the West Bank."
Mr. Bush said that for their part, the Palestinians must improve security measures and stop terrorist attacks against Israel:
"Building true security for Israelis and Palestinians demands an immediate, strong and sustained effort to combat terrorism in all its forms."
"Most Palestinians," said President Bush, "want to live in peace, and they want hope, and they want a chance to make a living, and they want to send their children to schools in a peaceful way. And now," he said, there is "an opportunity to try to achieve that vision."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.