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George W. Bush Administration: Speech at the Aqaba Summit

(June 4, 2003)

King Abdullah, thank you for hosting this event.

Her Majesty, thank you for your hospitality.

It is fitting that we gather today in Jordan. King Abdullah is a leader on behalf of peace, and is carrying forward the tradition of his father, King Hussein.

I'm pleased to be here with Prime Minister Sharon. The friendship between our countries began at the time of Israel's creation. Today, America is strongly committed and I am strongly committed to Israel's security as a vibrant Jewish state.

I'm also pleased to be with Prime Minister Abbas. He represents the cause of freedom and statehood for the Palestinian people. I strongly support that cause as well.

Each of us is here because we understand that all people have the right to live in peace. We believe that with hard work and good faith and courage it is possible to bring peace to the Middle East. And today we mark important progress toward that goal.

Great and hopeful change is coming to the Middle East.

In Iraq, a dictator who funded terror and sowed conflict has been removed, and a more just and democratic society is emerging.

Prime Minister Abbas now leads the Palestinian cabinet. By his strong leadership, by building the institutions of Palestinian democracy and by rejecting terror, he is serving the deepest hopes of his people.

All here today now share a goal: The Holy Land must be shared between the state of Palestine and the state of Israel, living at peace with each other and with every nation of the Middle East.

All sides will benefit from this achievement and all sides have responsibilities to meet. As the road map accepted by the parties makes clear, both must make tangible immediate steps toward this two-state vision.

I welcome Prime Minister Sharon's pledge to improve the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian areas and to begin removing unauthorized outposts immediately. I appreciate his gestures of reconciliation on behalf of prisoners and their families, and his frank statements about the need for territorial contiguity.

As I said yesterday, the issue of settlements must be addressed for peace to be achieved. In addition, Prime Minister Sharon has stated that no unilateral actions by either side can or should prejudge the outcome of future negotiations. The prime minister also recognizes that it is in Israel's own interest for Palestinians to govern themselves in their own state.

These are meaningful signs of respect for the rights of the Palestinians and their hopes for a viable, democratic, peaceful Palestinian state.

Prime Minister Abbas recognizes that terrorist crimes are a dangerous obstacle to the independent state his people seek.

He agrees that the process for achieving that state is through peaceful negotiations. He has pledged to consolidate Palestinian institutions, including the security forces, and to make them more accountable and more democratic.

He has promised his full efforts and resources to end the armed intefadeh. He has promised to work without compromise for a complete end of violence and terror.

In all these efforts, the prime minister is demonstrating his leadership and commitment to building a better future for the Palestinian people.

Both prime ministers here agree that progress toward peace also requires an end to violence and the elimination of all forms of hatred, and prejudice and official incitement, in schoolbooks, in broadcasts and in the words used by political leaders. Both leaders understand that a future of peace cannot be founded on hatred and falsehood and bitterness.

Yet these two leaders cannot bring about peace if they must act alone. True peace requires the support of other nations in the region.

Yesterday in Sharm el-Sheik we made a strong beginning. Arab leaders stated that they share our goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and in security. And they have promised to cut off assistance and the flow of money and weapons to terrorist groups and to help Prime Minister Abbas rid Palestinian areas of terrorism.

All sides have made important commitments, and the United States will strive to see these commitments fulfilled.

My government will provide training and support for a new, restructured Palestinian security service. And we'll place a mission on the ground, led by Ambassador John Wolf. This mission will be charged with helping the parties to move toward peace, monitoring their progress and stating clearly who is fulfilling their responsibilities.

And we expect both parties to keep their promises.

I've also asked Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to make this cause a matter of the highest priority. Secretary Powell and Dr. Rice, as my personal representative, will work closely with the parties, helping them move toward true peace as quickly as possible.

The journey we're taking is difficult, but there is no other choice. No leader of conscience can accept more months and years of humiliation, killing and mourning. And these leaders of conscience have made their declarations today in the cause of peace. The United States is committed to that cause. If all sides fulfill their obligation, I know that peace can finally come.

Thank you very much and may God bless our work.

Sources: The White House