Text of Bush Middle East Speech

ByABC News

April 4, 2002 -- The text of President Bush's speech on the Middle East:

Good morning.

During the course of one week, the situation in the MiddleEast has deteriorated dramatically. Last Wednesday, my specialenvoy, Anthony Zinni, reported to me that we were on the vergeof a cease-fire agreement that would have spared Palestinianand Israeli lives. That hope fell away when a terroristattacked a group of innocent people at a Netanya hotel, killingmany men and women in what is a mounting toll of terror.

In the days since, the world has watched with growingconcern the horror of bombings and burials and the starkpicture of tanks in the street. Across the world, people aregrieving for Israelis and Palestinians who have lost theirlives.

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

We mourn the dead, and we mourn the damage done to the hopeof peace, the hope of Israeli's and the Israelis' desire for aJewish state at peace with its neighbors, the hope of thePalestinian people to build their own independence state.Terror must be stopped. No nation can negotiate withterrorists, for there is no way to make peace with those whoseonly goal is death.

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

The United States is on record supporting the legitimateaspirations 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 andsecurity. This can be a time for hope, but it calls forleadership, not for terror.

Since September 11 I've delivered this message: Everyonemust choose. You're either with the civilized world or you'rewith the terrorists. All in the Middle East also must chooseand must move decisively in word and deed against terroristacts.

The chairman of the Palestinian Authority has notconsistently opposed or confronted terrorists.

At Oslo and elsewhere, Chairman Arafat renounced terror asan instrument of his cause, and he agreed to control it. He'snot done so.

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

Given his failure, the Israel government feels it muststrike at terrorist networks that are killing its citizens.Yet, Israel must understand that its response to these recentattacks is only a temporary measure. All parties have their ownresponsibilities, and all parties owe it to their own people toact.

We all know today's situation runs the risk of aggravatinglong- term bitterness and undermining relationships that arecritical to any hope of peace.

I call on the Palestinian people and the PalestinianAuthority and our friends in the Arab world to join us indelivering a clear message to terrorists: Blowing yourself updoes not help the Palestinian cause. To the contrary,suicide-bombing missions could well blow up the best and onlyhope for a Palestinian state.

All states must keep their promise, made in a vote in theUnited Nations, to actively oppose terror in all its forms. Nonation can pick and choose its terrorist friends.

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

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

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

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

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

This builds on a tradition of visionary leadership begun byPresident Sadat and King Hussein and carried forward byPresident Mubarak and King Abdullah. Now other Arab states mustrise to this occasion and accept Israel as a nation and as aneighbor.

Peace with Israel is the only avenue to prosperity andsuccess for a new Palestinian state. The Palestinian peopledeserve peace and an opportunity to better their lives.

They need their closest neighbor, Israel, to be an economicpartner, not a mortal enemy. They deserve a government thatrespects human rights and a government that focuses on theirneeds, education and health care, rather than feeding theirresentments.

It is not enough for Arab nations to defend the Palestiniancause. They must truly help the Palestinian people by seekingpeace and fighting terror and promoting development.

Israel faces hard choices of its own. Its government hassupported the creation of a Palestinian state that is not ahaven for terrorism. Yet, Israel also must recognize that sucha state needs to be politically and economically viable.

Consistent with the Mitchell plan, Israeli settlementactivity in occupied territories must stop, and the occupationmust end through withdrawal to secure and recognize boundariesconsistent with United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338.Ultimately, this approach should be the basis of agreementsbetween Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon.

Israel should also show a respect — a respect for andconcern about the dignity of the Palestinian people who are andwill be their neighbors. It is crucial to distinguish betweenthe terrorists and ordinary Palestinians seeking to provide fortheir own families. The Israeli government should becompassionate at checkpoints and border crossings, sparinginnocent Palestinians daily humiliation.

Israel should take immediate action to ease closures andallow peaceful people to go back to work.

Israel is facing a terrible and serious challenge. Forseven days, it has acted to rout out terrorists' nests. Americarecognizes Israel's right to defend itself from terror.

Yet, to lay the foundations of future peace, I ask Israelto halt incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas and beginthe withdrawal from those cities it has recently occupied. I speak as a committed friend of Israel. I speak out of aconcern for its long-term security, the security that will comewith a genuine peace.

As Israel steps back, responsible Palestinian leaders andIsrael's Arab neighbors must step forward and show the worldthat they are truly on the side of peace. The choice and theburden will be theirs.

The world expects an immediate cease-fire, immediateresumption of security cooperation with Israel againstterrorism, and an immediate order to crack down on terroristnetworks. I expect better leadership, and I expect results.

These are the elements of peace in the Middle East, and nowwe must build the road to those goals. Decades of bitterexperience teach a clear lesson: Progress is impossible whennations emphasize their grievances and ignore theiropportunities. The storms of violence cannot go on. Enough isenough.

And to those who would try to use the current crisis as anopportunity to widen the conflict, stay out. Iran's armsshipments and support for terror fuel the fire of conflict inthe Middle East, and it must stop. Syria has spoken out againstal Qaeda. We expect it to act against Hamas and Hezbollah, aswell.

It's time for Iran to focus on meeting its own people'saspirations for freedom and for Syria to decide which side ofthe war against terror it is on.

The world finds itself at a critical moment. This is aconflict that can widen or an opportunity we can seize.

And so, I've decided to send Secretary of State Powell tothe region next week, to seek broad international support forthe vision I've outlined today.

As a step in this process, he will work to implement UnitedNations Resolution 1402 — an immediate and meaningfulcease-fire, an end to terror and violence and incitement;withdrawal of Israel troops from Palestinian cities, includingRamallah; implementation of the already agreed-upon Tenet andMitchell plans, which will lead to a political settlement.

I have no illusions — we have no illusions — about thedifficulty of the issues that lay ahead. Yet our nation'sresolve is strong. America is committed to ending this conflictand beginning an era of peace.

We know this is possible, because in our lifetimes, we haveseen an end to conflicts that no one thought could end. We'veseen fierce enemies let go of long histories of strife andanger. America itself counts former adversaries as trustedfriends — 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 habitsof hatred.

The violence and grief that trouble the holy land have beenamong the great tragedies of our time. The Middle East hasoften been left behind in the political and economicadvancement 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 anddevelopment 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 Abrahamto know the benefits of peace.

Thank you very much.

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