Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
Thank you for your letter setting out your disengagement
The United States remains hopeful and determined to
find a way forward toward a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
I remain committed to my June
24, 2002 vision of two states living side by side in peace and security
as the key to peace, and to the roadmap as the route to get there.
We welcome the disengagement plan you have prepared,
under which Israel would withdraw certain military installations and
all settlements from Gaza,
and withdraw certain military installations and settlements in the West
Bank. These steps described in the plan will mark real progress
toward realizing my June 24, 2002 vision, and make a real contribution
towards peace. We also understand that, in this context, Israel believes
it is important to bring new opportunities to the Negev and the Galilee.
We are hopeful that steps pursuant to this plan, consistent with my
vision, will remind all states and parties of their own obligations
under the roadmap.
The United States appreciates the risks such an undertaking
represents. I therefore want to reassure you on several points.
First, the United States remains committed to my vision
and to its implementation as described in the roadmap. The United States
will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other
plan. Under the roadmap, Palestinians
must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts
of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian
institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian leadership
must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted, and
effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities
and infrastructure. Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and
fundamental political reform that includes a strong parliamentary democracy
and an empowered prime minister.
Second, there will be no security for Israelis or
Palestinians until they and all states, in the region and beyond, join
together to fight terrorism and dismantle terrorist organizations. The
United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security,
including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen
Israel's capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any
threat or possible combination of threats.
Third, Israel will retain its right to defend itself
against terrorism, including to take actions against terrorist organizations.
The United States will lead efforts, working together with Jordan, Egypt, and others in the
international community, to build the capacity and will of Palestinian
institutions to fight terrorism, dismantle terrorist organizations,
and prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a
threat that would have to be addressed by any other means. The United
States understands that after Israel withdraws from Gaza and/or parts
of the West Bank, and pending agreements on other arrangements, existing
arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters, and
land passages of the West Bank and Gaza will continue. The United States
is strongly committed to Israel's security and well-being as a Jewish
state. It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework
for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final
status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of
a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there,
rather than in Israel.
As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have
secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations
between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new
realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations
centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status
negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice
lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state
solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect
that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of
mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.
I know that, as you state in your letter, you are
aware that certain responsibilities face the State of Israel. Among
these, your government has stated that the barrier being erected by
Israel should be a security rather than political barrier, should be
temporary rather than permanent, and therefore not prejudice any final
status issues including final borders, and its route should take into
account, consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians
not engaged in terrorist activities.
As you know, the United States supports the establishment
of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent,
so that the Palestinian people can build their own future in accordance
with my vision set forth in June 2002 and with the path set forth in
the roadmap. The United States will join with others in the international
community to foster the development of democratic political institutions
and new leadership committed to those institutions, the reconstruction
of civic institutions, the growth of a free and prosperous economy,
and the building of capable security institutions dedicated to maintaining
law and order and dismantling terrorist organizations.
A peace settlement negotiated between Israelis and
Palestinians would be a great boon not only to those peoples but to
the peoples of the entire region. Accordingly, the United States believes
that all states in the region have special responsibilities: to support
the building of the institutions of a Palestinian state; to fight terrorism,
and cut off all forms of assistance to individuals and groups engaged
in terrorism; and to begin now to move toward more normal relations
with the State of Israel. These actions would be true contributions
to building peace in the region.
Mr. Prime Minister, you have described a bold and
historic initiative that can make an important contribution to peace.
I commend your efforts and your courageous decision which I support.
As a close friend and ally, the United States intends to work closely
with you to help make it a success.