Bush: Deal with Sharon not to predetermine charachter of permanent status agreement
United States President George W. Bush clarified Friday that the agreement he reached with Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Wednesday, did not predetermine the charachter of a permanent status settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
"All final status issues must still be negotiated between the parties," Bush said. "I look forward to the day when those discussions can begin so the Israeli occupation can be ended and a free and independent and peaceful Palestinian state can emerge."
Bush said "this is a fantastic opportunity" to launch the Palestinians to a state on land occupied by Israel. He urged the Palestinian leaders to "rise to the challenge" of accepting permanent Israeli possession of parts of the West Bank occupied in the 1967 Mideast war. "It gives all sides a chance to reinvigorate" the peace process, said Bush.
With British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his side at the White House, Bush said the plan "gives the Palestinians a chance to create a reformed, just and free government."
Blair voiced support for Sharon's disengagement plan and called for European nations to work for its success.
Blair said that if Israel follows through on its proposal, "the concept of a viable Palestinian state becomes a real possibility; not something that's put in a document and talked about or discussed in resolutions or speeches, but actually is a real, live possibility." (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)