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THE MIDDLE EAST : The World | TEXT OF PRESIDENT'S REMARKS

'I Expect Better Leadership, and I Expect Results'

Diplomacy: Bush says the world is at a critical moment and tells both sides that they 'owe it to their own people to act.'

April 05, 2002|From Associated Press

The text of President Bush's remarks Thursday on the Middle East, as transcribed by EMedia MillWorks Inc.:

Good morning.

During the course of one week, the situation in the Middle East has deteriorated dramatically. Last Wednesday, my special envoy, Anthony Zinni, reported to me that we were on the verge of a cease-fire agreement that would have spared Palestinian and Israeli lives. That hope fell away when a terrorist attacked a group of innocent people at a Netanya hotel, killing many men and women in what is a mounting toll of terror.

In the days since, the world has watched with growing concern the horror of bombings and burials and the stark picture of tanks in the street. Across the world, people are grieving for Israelis and Palestinians who have lost their lives.

When an 18-year-old Palestinian girl is induced to blow herself up, and in the process kills a 17-year-old Israeli girl, the future itself is dying, the future of the Palestinian people and the future of the Israeli people.

We mourn the dead, and we mourn the damage done to the hope of peace, the hope of Israelis and the Israelis' desire for a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors. The hope of the Palestinian people to build their own independent state.

Terror must be stopped. No nation can negotiate with terrorists, for there is no way to make peace with those whose only goal is death.

This could be a hopeful moment in the Middle East. The proposal of Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, supported by the Arab League, has put a number of countries in the Arab world closer than ever to recognizing Israel's right to exist.

The United States is on record supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a Palestinian state. Israel has recognized the goal of a Palestinian state.

The outlines of a just settlement are clear: two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. This can be a time for hope, but it calls for leadership, not for terror.

Since Sept. 11, I've delivered this message: Everyone must choose. You're either with the civilized world or you're with the terrorists. All in the Middle East also must choose and must move decisively in word and deed against terrorist acts.

The chairman of the Palestinian Authority has not consistently opposed or confronted terrorists.

At Oslo and elsewhere, Chairman Arafat renounced terror as an instrument of his cause, and he agreed to control it. He's not done so.

The situation in which he finds himself today is largely of his own making. He's missed his opportunities and thereby betrayed the hopes of the people he's supposed to lead.

Given his failure, the Israeli government feels it must strike at terrorist networks that are killing its citizens. Yet, Israel must understand that its response to these recent attacks is only a temporary measure. All parties have their own responsibilities, and all parties owe it to their own people to act.

We all know today's situation runs the risk of aggravating long-term bitterness and undermining relationships that are critical to any hope of peace.

I call on the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority and our friends in the Arab world to join us in delivering a clear message to terrorists: Blowing yourself up does not help the Palestinian cause. To the contrary, suicide bombing missions could well blow up the best and only hope for a Palestinian state.

All states must keep their promise, made in a vote in the United Nations, to actively oppose terror in all its forms. No nation can pick and choose its terrorist friends.

I call on the Palestinian Authority and all governments in the region to do everything in their power to stop terrorist activities, to disrupt terrorist financing, and to stop inciting violence by glorifying terror in state-owned media or telling suicide bombers they are martyrs.

They're not martyrs. They're murderers. And they undermine the cause of the Palestinian people.

Those governments, like Iraq, that reward parents for the sacrifice of their children are guilty of soliciting murder of the worst kind.

All who care about the Palestinian people should join in condemning and acting against groups like Al Aqsa, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and all groups which oppose the peace process and seek the destruction of Israel.

The recent Arab League support of Crown Prince Abdullah's initiative for peace is promising, is hopeful because it acknowledges Israel's right to exist. And it raises the hope of sustained, constructive Arab involvement in the search for peace.

This builds on a tradition of visionary leadership begun by [Egyptian] President [Anwar] Sadat and [Jordan's] King Hussein and carried forward by [Egyptian] President [Hosni] Mubarak and [Jordan's] King Abdullah [II]. Now other Arab states must rise to this occasion and accept Israel as a nation and as a neighbor.

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