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9/24/03 - ARAFAT HAS FAILED - 2003-09-24

The United States is committed to the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. This will happen only with a Palestinian leadership committed to fighting terror.

In June, President George W. Bush went to Aqaba, Jordan, where he met with leaders of Arab countries, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and Mahmoud Abbas, who was then the Palestinian Authority prime minister. They discussed the road map for peace.

In the weeks that followed the Aqaba meeting, says President Bush, “There was good progress”:

“Israel withdrew from Gaza City and Bethlehem and turned responsibility for security...over to the Palestinian Authority. Hundreds of prisoners were released. Checkpoints were removed and some unauthorized outposts were taken down. And on the Palestinian side, Prime Minister Abbas made a good-faith effort to meet the commitments made at Aqaba.”

But terrorism against Israel has continued. On September 9th, fifteen Israelis died in two separate bombing incidents. And Mr. Abbas has resigned. In a clear reference to longtime Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, President Bush said that former Prime Minister Abbas was “undercut by the old order”:

“Mr. Arafat failed as a leader. And the people of the Palestinian territory must understand if they want peace, they must have a leadership who is absolutely one-hundred percent committed to fighting off terror.”

The first thing the road map said was that there must be security in order for peace to advance, and there must be a collective effort to end terrorism. As President Bush points out, “Mr. Arafat has failed in that effort. And, hopefully, at some point in time, a leadership of the Palestinian Authority will emerge which will then commit itself one-hundred percent to fighting off terror.”