Bush unveils Mideast vision: U.S. backs Palestinian state with new leaders
U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday said the United States supports creation of a provisional Palestinian state but only if a "new and different Palestinian leadership" is found other than Yasser Arafat.
"When the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions, and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state," Bush said in a 16-minute statement of his Middle East policy.
Bush said of the new state that the borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty would be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement.
The president said that it was "untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror" and "untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor." The current situation gives little hope, he said.
He aired that the "Palestinian Authority was encouraging, not opposing terrorism."
"My vision is two states living side by side," Bush said. The president called "on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders," and to embrace democracy, tolerance and liberty."
Bush said a Palestinian state will never be created by terror, but reform. He called for a new Palestinian constitution and for the Palestinian parliament to have real powers.
"If Palestinians embrace democracy, confront corruption, and firmly reject terror, they can count on America's support for creation of a provisional state of Palestine," he pledged.
Bush said that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 would come to an end after negotiations between the sides based on UN Resolutions 242 and 328.
He said that Jerusalem and the problem of Palestinian refugees would be solved in later negotiations. the U.S. leader said that the Arab world had offered its help to achieve peace, and said that both Lebanon and Syria need to make peace with Israel.
"This moment is both an opportunity and a test for all parties in the Middle East," Bush said.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat dismissed Bush suggestion to find new leadership.
"Palestinian leaders don't come from parachutes from Washington or anywhere else. Palestinian leaders are elected directly by the Palestinian people. President Yasser Arafat was directly elected in a free and fair election... The world and President Bush must respect the democratic choice of the Palestinian people," he told CNN.
Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo told Reuters the Palestinians welcomed Bush's ideas but needed more details and for U.S.-Palestinian talks to be joined by the U.N., Russia and European Union.
He also called for "urgent U.S. and international intervention" to make Israeli forces leave Palestinian towns, which he said was indispensable for reforms and fresh elections.(Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)