Remarks by the President on the Middle East
Good morning. We have reached a hopeful moment for progress toward the vision of Middle Eastern peace that I outlined last June. I spoke of a day when two states, Israel and Palestine, will live side by side in peace and security. I called upon all parties in the Middle East to abandon old hatreds and to meet their responsibilities for peace.
The Palestinian state must be a reformed and peaceful and democratic state that abandons forever the use of terror. The government of Israel, as the terror threat is removed and security improves, must take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable and credible Palestinian state, and to work as quickly as possible toward a final status agreement. As progress is made toward peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end. And the Arab states must oppose terrorism, support the emergence of a peaceful and democratic Palestine, and state clearly that they will live in peace with Israel.
This moment offers a new opportunity to meet these objectives. After its recent elections, the nation of Israel has a new government. And the Palestinian Authority has created the new position of Prime Minister. Israeli and Palestinian leaders and other governments in the region now have a chance to move forward with determination and with good faith.
To be a credible and responsible partner, the new Palestinian Prime Minister must hold a position of real authority. We expect that such a Palestinian Prime Minister will be confirmed soon. Immediately upon confirmation, the road map for peace will be given to the Palestinians and the Israelis.* This road map will set forth a sequence of steps toward the goals I set out on June 24, 2002, goals shared by all the parties.
The United States has developed this plan over the last several months in close cooperation with Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. Once this road map is delivered, we will expect and welcome contributions from Israel and the Palestinians to this document that will advance true peace. We will urge them to discuss the road map with one another. The time has come to move beyond entrenched positions and to take concrete actions to achieve peace.
America is committed, and I am personally committed, to implementing our road map toward peace. Our efforts are guided by clear principles: We believe that all people in the Middle East—Arab and Israeli alike—deserve to live in dignity, under free and honest governments. We believe that people who live in freedom are more likely to reject bitterness, blind hatred and terror; and are far more likely to turn their energy toward reconciliation, reform and development.
There can be no peace for either side in the Middle East unless there is freedom for both. Reaching that destination will not be easy, but we can see the way forward. Now the parties must take that way, step by step, and America will be the active partner of every party that seeks true peace.
Thank you very much.*
* Editor’s Note: According to the White House transcript of remarks made after meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Camp David on March 27, 2003, President Bush reiterated that “…both America and Great Britain are strongly committed to implementing [the] road map.”
* Editor’s Note: President Bush presented these remarks in The Rose Garden on March 14, 2003.
President of the United States of America