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Bush Expects Israeli-Palestinian Accord in 2005

President Bush says he expects a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians during the coming year, and he pledges his personal efforts to ensure a diplomatic breakthrough.

In an interview published Sunday in Israel by the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Mr. Bush says all sides in the Middle East conflict must "understand that peace is not something that is arrived at through words, but through deeds."

The president backs the Israeli plan - by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - to withdraw all Jewish settlers and military forces from the Gaza Strip during 2005. A partial withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank also is expected, and Mr. Bush has called for an end to Palestinian militants' attacks against Israel.

Syria wants to reopen its long-stalled talks with Israel about the status of the Golan Heights, but Mr. Bush says any negotiations involving Damascus should wait until a Palestinian peace settlement is reached.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.