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Bush And Olmert Back Abbas

Speaking at a press conference at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President George W. Bush condemned the Hamas terrorist group for violently usurping the legitimate Palestinian government in Gaza. The United States, said Mr. Bush, supports Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the democratically elected "president of all the Palestinian people" and his lawful decision to form a new government with Salam Fayad as prime minister:

"This is an ideological struggle. We're looking at the difference between a group of people that want to represent the Palestinians who believe in peace, that want a better way for their people, that believe in democracy -- they need help to build the institutions necessary for democracy to flourish, and they need help to build security forces so that they can end up enforcing what most of the people want, which is to live in peace -- and that's versus a group of radicals and extremists who are willing to use violence, unspeakable violence sometimes, to achieve a political objective."

The United States intends to resume full assistance to the Palestinian government and normal government-to-government contacts. The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets and Control has issued a waiver lifting financial restrictions on the Palestinian government, enabling the American people and American financial institutions to resume normal economic and commercial ties with the Palestinian government.

Additionally, to help ease the suffering of all Palestinians, especially those in Gaza, the United States intends to contribute forty million dollars to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The United States will not leave one-and-a-half million Palestinians at the mercy of terrorist organizations. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government also supports President Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen:

"I want to strengthen the moderates, and to cooperate with President Abu Mazen, who is president of all Palestinians. [He is] the only person who was widely elected in a democratic manner by all of the Palestinian people."

President Bush said that he shares with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace.