President Bush voiced optimism about the prospects of next month’s U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace conference.
“I am very optimistic that we can achieve a two-state solution,” Bush told Al-Arabiya television in an interview broadcast over the weekend.
“Our strategy is to get all concerned countries to the table to get this comprehensive peace, and move forward in a way that is tangible.”
Bush is expected to host Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and key Arab leaders in mid-to-late November for talks about steps needed to found a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Some Arab diplomats have voiced misgivings about the parley given Olmert’s reluctance, at this stage, to make concrete concessions on core issues such as the status of Jerusalem. Israel, for its part, is concerned that Abbas may not have the clout to deliver security after his schism with Hamas.
“Nobody is going to want to have a state that becomes a launching pad for attack,” Bush told Al-Arabiya, in an apparent allusion to worries about Hamas’s ascendancy since it seized control of the Gaza Strip in June.
He said it is incumbent upon the West to bolster Abbas’s security forces and economic planning “so the average Palestinian can see a better life ahead, and can realize there is something better than violence.”