Bush leaves for Ramallah

President Bush left Jerusalem for Ramallah for meetings with the Palestinian Authority leadership.

Bush spent Wednesday meeting with top Israeli officials in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem and Ramallah stops come in the first days of Bush’s eight-day visit to the Middle East to nudge forward the renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace process and to build a coalition to confront Iran.

In his meetings in Jerusalem, Bush stressed the need for the Palestinians to establish security credentials and confront terrorism, but also pressed Israel on ending settlement expansion, particularly in tackling unauthorized West Bank settlement outposts.

In Ramallah, Bush will meet with P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at the “muqata,” the P.A. headquarters destroyed by Israel during the second intifada from 2000-2004 and rebuilt in part with U.S. funds.

Bush and Abbas will address the press at a podium flanked by portraits of Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, whom Bush reviled as a facilitator of terrorism and refused to meet. Arafat is entombed just meters away from the press conference site.

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