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Bush Urges All Mideast Parties to Choose Between War and Peace - 2002-04-17


President Bush says Secretary of State Colin Powell has made progress on his Middle East peace mission. The president says Israelis, Palestinians, and neighboring Arab states must all do more to help stop the violence.

President Bush says Secretary Powell is working hard at a difficult task in the Middle East and is now returning to Washington to brief him on the obstacles that lie ahead.

"He returns home having made progress towards peace," noted Mr. Bush. "We are confronting hatred that is centuries old, disputes that have lingered for decades, but I want you to know, I will continue to lead toward a vision of peace."

President Bush says Israelis, Palestinians, and Arab states all have responsibilities to help end this crisis. None of those responsibilities are easy, he says, but all of them are clear.

"The Palestinian Authority must act, must act on its words of condemnation against terror. Israel must continue its withdrawals," emphasized Mr. Bush. "And all Arab states must step-up to their responsibilities."

In a speech to cadets at a private military college in the state of Virginia, Mr. Bush says the entire world is witnessing the agonizing cost of this conflict in the stricken faces of both Palestinian mothers and Israeli mothers.

He says there is no middle ground in this fight to break the cycle of violence, that everyone in the region must choose between war and peace.

"In the Middle East where acts of terror have triggered mounting violence, all parties have a choice to make," he pointed out. "Every leader, every state must choose between two separate paths the path of peace or the path of terror."

The president says Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have helped in the wider war on terrorism and must now help confront terrorism in the Middle East. He says all Arab nations must step-up to their responsibilities and end the violence.

"All parties have a responsibility to stop funding or inciting terror," added Mr. Bush. "And all parties must say clearly that a murderer is not a martyr. He or she is just a murderer." President Bush says all parties must realize there is only one vision for a long-term solution in the Middle East two separate nations, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in security and peace.