Following a meeting in Washington with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, President George W. Bush said the United States will provide fifty million dollars for new housing and infrastructure projects in the Gaza Strip to help ensure that the disengagement from Gaza is a success. Mr. Bush said the U.S. funds would be used to improve the quality of life of the Palestinians living in Gaza, where poverty and unemployment are very high.
President Bush said that Israel's imminent disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank presents an opportunity "to lay the groundwork for a return to the road map." The "road map" is a plan put forward by the United States and other nations that envisions two independent states -- Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security.
"All parties," said President Bush, "have a responsibility to make this hopeful moment in the region a new and peaceful beginning":
"Israel must continue to take steps toward a peaceful future, and work with the Palestinian leadership to improve the daily lives of Palestinians, especially their humanitarian situation. Israel should not undertake any activity that contravenes road map obligations or prejudice final status negotiations with regard to Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem. Therefore, Israel must remove unauthorized outposts and stop settlement expansion."
The barrier that Israel is erecting as a part of its security effort should take into account its potential impact on Palestinians "not engaged in terrorist activities," said President Bush. Arab states, for their part, must take concrete measures to create a regional environment conducive to peace:
"They must offer financial assistance...to support the peaceful efforts of President Abbas, his government and the Palestinian people. And they must refuse to assist or harbor terrorists."
"We will not stand by as another generation in the Holy Land grows up in an atmosphere of violence and hopelessness," President Bush said. "With concrete actions by the United States, the Palestinians, Israel, and other nations, we can transform this opportunity into real momentum."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.