During a joint press conference in Washington with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, President George W. Bush said that the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia – collectively known as the Quartet – are committed to helping rebuild the Palestinian economy.
Quartet special envoy James Wolfensohn is coordinating an international effort to generate economic and financial support for the Palestinians. Mr. Wolfensohn says that the most critical issues include opening the Rafah crossing, which connects the Gaza Strip to Egypt, improving the ability of Palestinians to travel in the West Bank, and beginning work on the Gaza seaport. President Bush said it is important that "quick progress" is made:
"These are all practical steps that will help the Palestinian economy grow and flourish. I believe that Arab states have a particular responsibility to help the Palestinians build a strong and prosperous economy, and I urge them to create an environment in the region that strengthens the possibility of peace."
Speaking through a translator, President Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority recently launched a series of economic projects in Gaza and the West Bank involving infrastructure, as well as health, education, and agriculture:
"And here I would like to salute the United States for its contribution, and also the help that came from a variety of Arab countries and countries around the world. And we hope that all these projects will be activated by the donors' countries in order to increase the number of projects that our people are in need of."
President Bush said that the United States will use its influence to help realize the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.