President Bush announced a major new initiative aimed at the creation of a Palestinian state. Speaking Monday at the White House, Bush said his plan including funding and diplomatic components. A funding initiative would include $190 million in direct U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority, as well as the development of a $228 million lending fund to which the United States would contribute $80 million to bolster the P.A. security service. The diplomatic effort would include a major regional conference this autumn in the Middle East to be chaired by the United States. Bush called on Arab states to end their refusal to recognize Israel ahead of the conference. Trying to build Palestinian institutions, the president called on Israel to remove settlement outposts in the West Bank, cease settlement expansion and continue transferring Palestinian tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority. Bush also said the Palestinians should take steps to bolster Israelâ€™s security. â€œThe Palestinian government must arrest terrorists, dismantle their infrastructure and confiscate illegal weapons,â€ he said.
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