|Bush Calls for Ouster of Arafat|
President Bush today demanded the removal of Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian leaders he said were "encouraging, not opposing, terrorism," as a condition for creation of a Palestinian state in the Middle East.
"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," said Bush from the White House.
Without referring directly to Arafat, Bush stated, "I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror."
The president appealed to the Palestinian people to "elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror," and to "build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty."
"A Palestinian state can only serve its citizens with a new constitution which separates the powers of government," said the president. "The Palestinian parliament should have the full authority of a legislative body."
Israel Must Withdraw its Forces
President Bush also called on Israel to withdraw its forces from Palestine, returning them to positions they held on September 28, 2000. The president further called on Israel to halt its settlement incursions into Palestinian-occupied territories, as recommended by the Mitchell Committee, and to lift economic sanctions against Palestine.
"Ultimately, Israelis and Palestinians must address the core issues that divide them if there is to be a real peace, resolving all claims and ending the conflict between them," said Bush. "This means that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties, based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognize borders."
Understanding for Both Sides
The president expressed understanding for the anguish and despair suffered by both the Israeli and Palestinian people during the long years of conflict in the region.
Of Israelis, Bush stated, "You've lived too long with fear and funerals, having to avoid markets and public transportation, and forced to put armed guards in kindergarten classrooms. The Palestinian Authority has rejected your offer at hand, and trafficked with terrorists. You have a right to a normal life; you have a right to security; and I deeply believe that you need a reformed, responsible Palestinian partner to achieve that security."
Of Palestinians, he said, " For decades you've been treated as pawns in the Middle East conflict. Your interests have been held hostage to a comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come, as your lives get worse year by year. You deserve democracy and the rule of law. You deserve an open society and a thriving economy. You deserve a life of hope for your children. An end to occupation and a peaceful democratic Palestinian state may seem distant, but America and our partners throughout the world stand ready to help, help you make them possible as soon as possible."
"If liberty can blossom"
Offering the assistance of the United States and its allies in helping to realize a "peaceful democratic Palestinian state," President Bush declared, "If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government."