WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President George W. Bush said Monday “the time has come” for a democratic Israel and democratic Palestine living side by side in peace, vowing to help the two sides strike a deal by year end.
In his annual State of the Union speech, Bush said diplomatic efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were part of the broader US-led war against terror.
“We are also standing against the forces of extremism in the Holy Land, where we have new cause for hope,” Bush told both houses of Congress.
“Palestinians have elected a president who recognizes that confronting terror is essential to achieving a state where his people can live in dignity and at peace with Israel,” he said.
“Israelis have leaders who recognize that a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state will be a source of lasting security,” he said.
Bush made his first trip as president to the West Bank and Israel earlier this month in a bid to bolster a new peace process he launched at an international conference in Annapolis, Maryland in November.
“This month in Ramallah and Jerusalem, I assured leaders from both sides that America will do, and I will do, everything we can to help them achieve a peace agreement that defines a Palestinian state by the end of this year,” he said.
“The time has come for a Holy Land where a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine live side-by-side in peace,” he concluded.