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Israelis, Palestinians agree on joint pledge

President Bush announced a joint pledge by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to endeavor to achieve peace by the end of 2008.

“In furtherance of the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, we agree to immediately launch good-faith, bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues, without exception, as specified in previous agreements,” Bush read from the joint statement. “We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations, and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008.”

The sides will establish a steering committee that will meet for the first time on Dec. 12. They will adhere to the “road map,” the process set out by President Bush in 2003 that calls on Palestinians to combat terrorism and the Israelis to freeze settlement in its first stage.

However, now the sides will have to defer to an “American-Palestinian and Israeli mechanism led by the United States to follow up on the implementation of the road map.”

The declaration adds, “The United States will monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the road map.” This intensifies U.S. involvement to an unprecedented extent.

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