President Bush emphasized that he wants to see a “viable” Palestinian state emerge from negotiations.
“A Palestinian state is a high priority for me and my administration – a viable state, a state that doesn’t look like Swiss cheese, a state that provides hope,” Bush said Thursday after meeting Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president. “I believe it’s in Israel’s interest and the Palestinian people’s interest to have leaders willing to work toward the achievement of that state.”
In his meetings this week in Washington, Abbas urged Bush administration officials to press Israel to end settlement expansion, which Palestinians say inhibits the prospects of a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank.
Bush is set to tour the Middle East next month, in part to help Israel celebrate its 60th anniversary. He will also meet with Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at a summit in Sharm a-Sheik, the Egyptian Sinai resort. Israel has yet to say whether it will attend.