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6/6/03 - ISRAELIS, PALESTINIANS SEEK PEACE - 2003-06-06


At a meeting in Jordan, the prime ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority pledged to work toward the goal of a new state, Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. Also participating in the meeting were President George W. Bush and Jordan’s King Abdullah.

Speaking for the Palestinians, Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said the process will involve “direct negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestine conflict. . .and end the occupation. . .under which Palestinians have suffered so much. At the same time,” he said, Palestinians “do not ignore the suffering of the Jews throughout history. It is time to bring all this suffering to an end.”

Prime Minister Abbas, speaking through an interpreter, condemned terrorism and said the Palestinian Authority “will act vigorously” against incitement to hatred and violence:

“We repeat our denunciation and renunciation of terrorism against the Israelis wherever they might be. Such methods are inconsistent with our religious and moral traditions and are dangerous obstacles to the achievement of an independent, sovereign state we seek.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made it clear that there “can be no compromise with terror.” Mr. Sharon said that Israel welcomes the chance to renew direct negotiations with the Palestinians:

“It is in Israel’s interest not to govern the Palestinians, but for the Palestinians to govern themselves in their own state. A democratic Palestinian state, fully at peace with Israel, will promote the long-term security and well-being of Israel as a Jewish state.”

Prime Minister Sharon said that Israel would seek to “improve the humanitarian situation” in Palestinian areas and would “immediately begin to remove unauthorized” Jewish settlements.

Israelis and Palestinians both have responsibilities to meet. And both, said President Bush, have a goal:

“The Holy Land must be shared between the state of Palestine and the state of Israel, living at peace with each other and with every nation of the Middle East.”

“If all sides fulfill their obligation,” said President Bush, “peace can finally come.”

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