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8/5/03 - BUSH ON MIDDLE EAST PEACE - 2003-08-05

The United States is committed to the security of Israel as a Jewish state. There is now, said President George W. Bush, an opportunity “to add to Israeli security and safety, and add to the hopes of the average Palestinian citizen, by making tangible progress towards two states living side-by-side in peace”:

“I’m encouraged by the positive steps that Israel has taken to further the cause of peace, including prisoner releases. Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon is now meeting regularly with Prime Minister [Mahmoud] Abbas, and that’s positive. Israeli and Palestinian cabinet and security officials are meeting, as well.”

Israel has taken steps to make it easier for Palestinians to work in Israel, and to travel to their jobs and schools. But, said President Bush, "Much hard work remains to be done”:

“All parties agree that a fundamental obstacle to peace is terrorism, which can never be justified by any cause. Prime Minister Abbas committed to a complete end to violence and terrorism. The Palestinian Authority must undertake sustained, targeted and effective operations to confront those engaged in terror and to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. We’re determined to help Prime Minister Abbas as he works to end terror, and establish the rule of law that will protect Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

During a White House meeting July 29th, President Bush encouraged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “to take further steps to improve the daily conditions faced by Palestinians”:

“Israelis and Palestinians deserve the same chance to live normal lives, free from fear, free from hatred and violence, and free from harassment. I also urged the Prime Minister to carefully consider all the consequences of Israel’s actions as we move forward on the road to peace.”

As President Bush put it, “The rise of a peaceful Palestinian state and the long-term security of the Israeli people both depend on defeating the threat of terrorist groups and ending incitement and hatred.”