Mr. Bush called on the Israelis, who have recently launched a renewed military incursion into Palestinian-controlled territories, to pull back to the borders maintained before violence flared in September 2000. The president also said Israel should freeze its settlements in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The president said such changes would allow for a Palestinian state to coexist peacefully with its Israeli neighbors — and emphasized “a peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve the security that Israel longs for.”
“My vision is two states living side by side in peace and security,” Mr. Bush said. “There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror. Yet at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope.”
Among those changes, the president said, must be a new, democratically-elected government that would ostensibly replace the administration of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Mr. Bush has repeatedly criticized Arafat for failing to crack down on terror attacks against Israelis.
“When the Palestinians 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,” the president said. “Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership so that a Palestinian state can be born.”
The president warned that Palestinian reforms “must be more than cosmetic changes or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo” to garner U.S. support.
Mr. Bush also pledged U.S. and world assistance to aid Palestinians in crafting a new constitution and promoting economic development.