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Aiding Palestinian Moderates

The armed uprising by the Hamas terrorist organization against the Palestinian Authority and its violent takeover of Gaza showed that the Palestinian people are faced with stark alternatives, says President George W. Bush:

"There is the vision of Hamas, which the world saw in Gaza -- with murderers in black masks, and summary executions, and men thrown to their death from rooftops. By following this path, the Palestinian people would guarantee chaos, and suffering, and the endless perpetuation of grievance. They would surrender their future to Hamas's foreign sponsors in Syria and Iran. And they would crush the possibility of a Palestinian state. There's another option, and that's a hopeful option. It is the vision of [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas and Prime Minister [Salam] Fayyad; it's the vision of their government; it's the vision of a peaceful state called Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people."

President Bush said President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are striving to build democratic institutions, strengthen the Palestinian security services, set up competent ministries that deliver services without corruption, and improve the economy. To assist them, the U.S. has lifted financial restrictions it imposed on the Palestinian Authority.

President Bush says he will work with the U.S. Congress and other countries to provide additional resources once a plan to build Palestinian institutions is in place. Mr. Bush also announced an international meeting this fall of representatives from nations that support a two-state solution, reject violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties:

"The key participants in this meeting will be the Israelis, the Palestinians, and their neighbors in the region. Secretary [of State Condoleezza] Rice will chair the meeting. She and her counterparts will review the progress that has been made toward building Palestinian institutions. They will look for innovative and effective ways to support further reform. And they will provide diplomatic support for the parties in their bilateral discussions and negotiations, so that we can move forward on a successful path to a Palestinian state."

As in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the conflict in Gaza and the West Bank, said President Bush, "is a struggle between extremists and moderates. Ceding any of these struggles to extremists," he said, "would have deadly consequences for the region and the world. So in Gaza and the West Bank and beyond, the international community must stand with the brave men and women who are working for peace."