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Bush Urges Israel, Palestinians to Take Steps Toward Peace - 2003-11-19


President Bush is again urging Israel and the Palestinians to take steps toward peace. He is also calling for Europe to help put pressure on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

In remarks to a group of foreign policy experts, the president had some tough talk for both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. He called for the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to take more confidence-building measures.

"Israel should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people and not prejudice final negotiations with the placement of walls and fences," said president Bush.

It was a reference to the security barrier being built by Israel to separate itself from the West Bank. The Israelis say the step is necessary to keep out Palestinian terrorists.

President Bush stressed once again that good Palestinian leaders would have the ability to end the bloodshed, and bring attacks to an end. He did not mention Yasser Arafat by name, but his meaning was clear.

"Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, who tolerate and profit from corruption, and maintain their ties to terrorist groups," he said. "These are the methods of the old elites."

Mr. Bush said European leaders should withdraw support for any Palestinian ruler who fails his people and betrays the cause of a separate Palestinian state living in peace with Israel. He also called for Europe to take a strong stand against anti-semitism, saying it poisons public debates over the future of the Middle East.

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