President Bush said the establishment of a Palestinian state was “long overdue” and called for an agreement within a year.
Bush delivered a summary statement Thursday after spending two days in Israel and the Palestinian areas meeting with Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders.
“The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue,” the U.S. leader said at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. “A peace agreement should happen and can happen by the end of this year.”
Bush reiterated calls for the parties to adhere to the “road map” peace process he launched in 2003, calling on the Palestinians to stop terrorist attacks and create a secure environment for Israel and Israel to end settlement expansion and remove illegal outposts.
He said the parties must address all the core issues. On borders he reiterated one of the principles of his 2004 letter to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, saying “any peace agreement will require mutual adjustment to the 1949 line.” Bush also said the Palestinian refugee issue should be addressed by “new international mechanisms, including compensation.”
Bush said that the agreement “must establish Palestine as a homeland to the Palestinian people just as Israel is a homeland to the Jewish people.” He said a Palestinian state must be contiguous.
He spoke just before departing a final dinner at Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s residence. The president leaves Friday for Kuwait after visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and touring Christian holy sites in the north of Israel.