Bush calls Israel to stop settlement construction, Palestinians to fight ”terrorism”
President Bush praised Thursday Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and declared prospects for Palestinians gaining a state seem to be better than ever before.
At a news conference after a one-hour meeting in the White House, Bush said "the way forward is confronting the threat armed gangs present to creation of a democratic Palestine."
In addition, the US leader called on Israel to stop constructing settlements on the West Bank. He also assured Abbas he shared his vision of two states living side by side in peace and security. Bush also said the Palestinian Authority must reject and fight "terrorism" for the Middle East peace process to be able to move forward.
Earlier, Abbas accused Israel on Thursday of opposition groups which reject peace talks by continuing to isolate Gaza Strip. In a Wall Street Journal article published hours before his meeting with Bush, Abbas wrote he had done his part to pave the way to peacemaking by launching security reforms and generally maintaining a calm by Palestinian factions.
"Unfortunately, Palestinians cannot pursue the Road Map alone," he wrote. "Israel has created obstacles in the face of a full and unconditional return to the negotiating table and acted as if Israel can resolve the Middle East conflict unilaterally."
The Palestinian leader added that even though Israel evacuated settlers and soldiers from Gaza Strip, the Jewish state was keeping the territory sealed off by land, sea and air from the outside world.
He warned that much larger Israeli settlements were being built in the West Bank and Israel also continued to build a barrier in the occupied territory.
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