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5/12/04 -  BUSH ON PALESTINIAN STATE - 2004-05-07

The U.S. remains strongly committed to the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. President George W. Bush says he is “confident that a peaceful Palestinian state can emerge”:

“I also recognize that we have got a duty, all of us, to fight off the terrorists who are trying to stop the. . .creation of a Palestinian state. And now is the time to make progress.”

The diplomatic group known as the “Quartet” consists of the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia. The Quartet has reaffirmed its support for the “road map,” which calls for Israel and Palestinians both to take steps leading to a Palestinian state by 2005.

After a May 4th meeting at the United Nations in New York, Quartet members issued a statement that takes “positive note” of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to remove all Israeli settlements from Gaza and some settlements from the West Bank. Under the plan, Israel will also remove some military installations from both of these predominantly Palestinian areas.

Mr. Sharon’s withdrawal plan was rejected in a referendum by his own Likud party. But observers say that a majority of Israelis appears to favor it. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says that Mr. Bush’s endorsement of the withdrawal plan is helping to generate support for it among Israelis.

As the Israeli settlements are evacuated, they can be converted to constructive use by Palestinians, who will be free to build a new society for themselves. But both sides will be expected to meet all their obligations under the road map, including an end to terrorism.