President Bush says Palestinian prime minister-designate Ahmed Korei must stop terrorist attacks against Israel. Mr. Bush says the so-called International "road map" for Middle East peace is still the way forward.
President Bush said Mr. Korei's emergency cabinet must unify command of all Palestinian security forces and take immediate steps to break-up terrorist organizations.
"His job, if he is interested in a two-state solution, is to consolidate power within his administration to get the security forces under control, all security forces, and then to unleash those security forces against killers. And we can make progress if that is the case," he said.
Mr. Korei accepted Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's offer to become prime minister and hopes to form a small "crisis" government to replace Mahmoud Abbas, who stepped down as prime minister after four months of arguing with Mr. Arafat over control of security.
President Bush widely praised Mr. Abbas as someone who he felt could help bring peace to the Middle East. When asked if the president has the same confidence in Mr. Korei, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said simply that the choice is an internal matter for the Palestinian Authority.
President Bush said "time will tell" how the change in Palestinian leadership affects the "road map," but he remains confident that the power-sharing agreement can reach its ultimate goal of a separate Palestinian state.
"We still believe strongly that two states living side-by-side in peace is a hopeful vision for the future of the Middle East. The 'road map' is still there. The fundamental question is whether or not peaceful people will be on the road," he said.
The White House says the new Palestinian cabinet must state clearly its opposition to all forms of terrorism and insist that all military organizations not under control of the Palestinian Authority be outlawed and dismantled.
Mr. Korei has said that Tuesday's suicide bombings in Israel as well as Israeli air strikes in Gaza are unacceptable.
President Bush said both sides have obligations to create the conditions for peace. "Israel, of course, has got responsibility not only to protect their people, but to create the conditions necessary for those in the Palestinian Authority who do believe in peace, who do believe in the vision to prevail. It's tough times there now, and we mourn the loss of innocent life, but the vision is still there because I strongly believe that it is the interest of everybody that two states live side-by-side in peace," he said.
Referring to Tuesday's suicide bombings in Israel, Mr. McClellan said the "vicious" attacks further underscore the need to fight terrorism and said it is important to have a Palestinian prime minister and cabinet committed to peace.