Good morning. This weekend, Laura and I are hosting the British Prime Minister,
Tony Blair, and his family, at our ranch in Crawford, Texas. America has no
better ally in our war against terrorism than Great Britain.
Six months ago, when the United States launched military strikes against al
Qaeda training camps and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, British forces were
right by our side. And the success of Operation Enduring Freedom owes much to
the strong support from allies like Great Britain. Yet, the war against terrorism
is far from over. It will continue in Afghanistan and beyond.
The world has been brutally reminded these past two weeks of the price exacted
by terror. Prime Minister Blair and I will spend much of our time this weekend
discussing the tragic outbreak of violence in the Middle East. Across the world,
people are grieving for Israelis and Palestinians who have lost their lives.
When an 18 year old Palestinian girl is induced to blow herself up, and in the
process kills a 17 year old Israeli girl, the future, itself, is dying -- the
future of the Palestinian people and the future of the Israeli people. The United
States is strongly committed to finding a just settlement in the Middle East.
That settlement must lead to two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by
side in peace and security.
This goal can never be realized through terrorism. It can only be realized through
a political process. Arab governments, the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian
people must recognize that suicide bombings are jeopardizing the very possibility
of an independent Palestinian state.
This week, I called upon the Palestinian leadership to order an immediate and
effective cease-fire, and a crackdown on terrorist networks. Israel, too, faces
hard choices. America will always be a committed friend of Israel, and we recognize
Israel's right to defend itself against terror. Yet, to lay the foundations
of future peace, I've asked Israel to halt incursions into Palestinian controlled
areas and begin withdrawing from those cities it has recently occupied.
Next week, Secretary of State Powell will travel to the Middle East to seek
broad international support for these principles, and to work toward a cease-fire
that will lead to a political settlement.
I have no illusions about the difficulty of this mission. Yet, our determination
is strong. We'll work closely with nations in the region and with close allies,
such as Great Britain, to end this conflict and to begin an era of peace.
This could be a hopeful moment in the Middle East. A number of Arab leaders
have endorsed a proposal that brings them closer than ever to recognizing Israel's
right to exist. The United States is on record supporting the legitimate aspirations
of the Palestinian people for a Palestinian state. And Israel has recognized
the goal of a Palestinian state.
I believe the region could write a new story of democracy and development and
trade, and join the progress of our times. Yet, progress requires an atmosphere
of peace, and peace requires acts of leadership, not acts of terror.