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Watershed For Mideast Freedom?

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

Palestinians went to the polls on January 9th to choose a new president of the Palestinian Authority, and Iraqis are scheduled to vote for a national assembly on January 30th. A leading U.S. senator, Joseph Lieberman, says he believes these two events could make January 2005 a month of "historic transformation in the Middle East:" "The Iraqis and the Palestinians will hold genuine elections and begin becoming democratic nations. That's exactly what we want. It's, in some ways, the best non-military victory we could achieve in our own war against terrorism. And it's happening."

President George W. Bush says that the movement toward elections is creating "a time of change and a time of hope" for the Middle East. "A free Iraq," says Mr. Bush, "will be a standing rebuke to terrorism and a model to reformers from Damascus to Tehran." And, a representative government in Palestinians territories, says Mr. Bush, is the only way to peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis:

"There never will be peace until a true democratic state emerges in the Palestinian territory. And I'm hopeful right now because the Palestinians… will have elections, which is the beginning of the process toward the development of a state. It is not the sign that democracy has arrived. It is the beginning of a process."

"The Palestinian people," says Mr. Bush, "deserve a peaceful government that truly serves their interests, and the Israeli people need a true partner in peace."

The destination is clear, says President Bush. It is "two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. And," says Mr. Bush, "that destination can be reached by only one path, the path of democracy and reform and the rule of law."