President Bush has welcomed the new security agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The White House calls it "a hopeful sign."
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the Bush administration hopes this agreement is just the beginning.
During a session with reporters near the president's Texas ranch, he praised the deal. He called it "constructive," noting it is a difficult issue to handle.
Mr. Fleischer stressed President Bush has long pointed to security concerns as central to the peace process. The White House spokesman said all efforts to improve security in the region are welcome, and said the president would like to see more positive developments in the days to come.
He spoke as Israel began implementing the new deal by pulling its troops out of the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The agreement calls for Israeli forces to leave Bethlehem and parts of the Gaza Strip and turn over control of security to Palestinian police.