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11/16/04 - PALESTINIAN STATE - 2004-11-16

The U.S., says President George W. Bush, seeks "a democratic, independent, and viable state for the Palestinian people." Mr. Bush says the U.S. is also "committed to the security of Israel as a Jewish state":

"These objectives -- two states living side by side in peace and security -- can be reached by only one path: the path of democracy, reform, and the rule of law."

President Bush spoke at a White House news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr. Blair expressed strong British support for this "two-state solution." Both leaders expressed condolences on the death of Yasser Arafat, president of the Palestinian Authority. "Our sympathies," said Mr. Bush, "are with the Palestinian people as they begin a period of mourning":

"Yet the months ahead offer a new opportunity to make progress toward a lasting peace. Soon Palestinians will choose a new president. This is the first step in creating lasting, democratic political institutions through which a free Palestinian people will elect local and national leaders."

Mr. Bush said the U.S. is "committed to the success of these elections, and we stand ready to help":

"We'll mobilize the international community to help revive the Palestinian economy, to build up Palestinian security institutions to fight terror, to help the Palestinian government fight corruption, and to reform the Palestinian political system and build democratic institutions. We'll also work with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to complete the disengagement plan from Gaza and part of the West Bank."

There will never be lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, said President Bush, "until there is a free, truly democratic society in the Palestinian territories that becomes a state. And therefore the responsibility rests with both the Palestinian people and the leadership which emerges, with the Israelis to help that democracy grow, and with the free world to put the strategy in place that will help the democracy grow."