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3/23/03 - ROAD MAP FOR PEACE IN MIDEAST - 2003-03-24


As President George W. Bush said, the time is right to work toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians. After its recent elections, said Mr. Bush, “Israel has a new government. And the Palestinian Authority has created the new position of prime minister.” But as Mr. Bush stressed, “To be a credible and responsible [peace] partner, the new Palestinian prime minister must hold a position of real authority.”

In a speech last June, President Bush spoke of a day when two states, Israel and Palestine, would live side by side in peace and security. He called on everyone in the Middle East to abandon old hatreds and meet their responsibilities.

“The Palestinian state,” said Mr. Bush, “must be a reformed and peaceful and democratic state that abandons forever the use of terror. The government of Israel, as the terror threat is removed and security improves, must take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable and credible Palestinian state, and work as quickly as possible toward a final status agreement. As progress is made toward peace, [Israeli] settlement activity in the occupied territories must end. And the Arab states must oppose terrorism, support the emergence of a peaceful and democratic Palestine, and state clearly that they will live in peace with Israel.”

Over the past several months, the U.S. has worked with Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations on what has been called a “road map for peace.” It will set forth a sequence of steps leading to the goal of an independent, democratic Palestinian state living in peace with Israel.

As President Bush said:

“We believe that all people in the Middle East -- Arab and Israeli alike -- deserve to live in dignity, under free and honest governments. We believe that people who live in freedom are more likely to reject bitterness, blind hatred, and terror; and are far more likely to turn their energy toward reconciliation, reform, and development.”

There can be no peace for either side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said President Bush, “unless there is freedom for both. . . . Now the parties must take that way, step by step. And America will be the active partner of every party that seeks true peace.”

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