Yet, to lay the foundations of future peace, I ask Israel to halt incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas and begin the withdrawal from those cities it has recently occupied. I speak as a committed friend of Israel. I speak out of a concern for its long-term security, the security that will come with a genuine peace.
As Israel steps back, responsible Palestinian leaders and Israel's Arab neighbors must step forward and show the world that they are truly on the side of peace. The choice and the burden will be theirs.
The world expects an immediate cease-fire, immediate resumption of security cooperation with Israel against terrorism, and an immediate order to crack down on terrorist networks. I expect better leadership, and I expect results.
These are the elements of peace in the Middle East, and now we must build the road to those goals. Decades of bitter experience teach a clear lesson: Progress is impossible when nations emphasize their grievances and ignore their opportunities. The storms of violence cannot go on. Enough is enough.
And to those who would try to use the current crisis as an opportunity to widen the conflict, stay out. Iran's arms shipments and support for terror fuel the fire of conflict in the Middle East, and it must stop. Syria has spoken out against al Qaeda. We expect it to act against Hamas and Hezbollah, as well.
It's time for Iran to focus on meeting its own people's aspirations for freedom and for Syria to decide which side of the war against terror it is on.
The world finds itself at a critical moment. This is a conflict that can widen or an opportunity we can seize.
And so, I've decided to send Secretary of State Powell to the region next week, to seek broad international support for the vision I've outlined today.
As a step in this process, he will work to implement United Nations Resolution 1402 — an immediate and meaningful cease-fire, an end to terror and violence and incitement; withdrawal of Israel troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah; implementation of the already agreed-upon Tenet and Mitchell plans, which will lead to a political settlement.
I have no illusions — we have no illusions — about the difficulty of the issues that lay ahead. Yet our nation's resolve is strong. America is committed to ending this conflict and beginning an era of peace.
We know this is possible, because in our lifetimes, we have seen an end to conflicts that no one thought could end. We've seen fierce enemies let go of long histories of strife and anger. America itself counts former adversaries as trusted friends — Germany and Japan and now Russia.
Conflict is not inevitable. Distrust need not be permanent. Peace is possible when we break free of old patterns and habits of hatred.
The violence and grief that trouble the holy land have been among the great tragedies of our time. The Middle East has often been left behind in the political and economic advancement of the world. That is the history of the region, but it need not — and must not — be its fate.
The Middle East could write a new story of trade and development and democracy. And we stand ready to help.
Yet this progress can only come in an atmosphere of peace. And the United States will work for all the children of Abraham to know the benefits of peace.
Thank you very much.