Bush sees Palestine by year's end

Friday, January 11, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

US President George W. Bush optimistically declared on Thursday that he has little doubt a final status Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement bringing about what he called the long-overdue establishment of a Palestinian Arab state will be signed by the end of his term a year from now.

Mr. Bush insisted that a sovereign Palestinian state will bring stability to the region and increased security to Israelis.

The visiting American president made his comments at a joint press conference with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas following their meeting in Ramallah.

Later in the day, Bush read a statement to US-based journalists further detailing his vision for ending the conflict.

The president seemed to side with Israeli conditions that adjustments be made to pre-1967 borders to take into account large existing Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, and that a future Palestinian state provide the sole solution to the so-called Palestinian "refugee crisis."

At a state dinner attended by Olmert and his entire cabinet Thursday evening, Bush strongly urged the gathered Israeli ministers and the various parties they represent to refrain from destabilizing the Olmert government and preventing it from assisting him in the division of the land.

Israeli media later pointed out that throughout his meetings, Bush was conspicuously vague on the issue of Jerusalem, which the president admitted will be the most difficult hurdle to overcome if his vision for the region is to be realized.

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