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6/18/03 - PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST - 2003-06-18

The Palestinians have begun to take their future into their own hands. Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas recognizes that terrorism is not a means to a Palestinian state, but a deadly obstacle to it.

The goal, said U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher is clear:

“All the parties in the region need to do what they can to stop the violence... We urge the nations that want to see peace to fight terror, cut off money to organizations like Hamas, isolate those who are willing to kill to stop peace from happening.”

Voice: A reformed Palestinian Authority is a necessary first step. A Palestinian leadership resolutely opposed to terror will inspire confidence that Israel has a true partner for peace. But the Arab states have responsibilities, too. They must end their support for terrorism by groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which are obstacles to peace. And they must end their incitements to hatred of Israel and Jews. The Israelis must treat the Palestinians better and deal with the issue of settlements.

The U.S. role in the Middle East peace process, said State Department spokesman Boucher, is clear:

“In terms of the Israelis and the Palestinians, we are trying to work with both sides. We do work credibly with both sides to help them achieve their goals in a peaceful manner. We are not adopting neutrality toward terrorism.”

Voice: As U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice put it, “Terror, wherever it is found, wherever it is practiced, has got to be rooted out and destroyed.”