Abbas lauds Bush on peace


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Mahmoud Abbas praised President Bush for laying the foundations for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"Together we put the fundamental, basic things needed for the peace process," the Palestinian Authority president said Dec. 19, addressing Bush at a White House meeting, their last before Bush leaves office next month. "There is no doubt that we will continue these efforts and the peace negotiations.  But everything will be based on the foundation, and that foundation was laid by you during your time in office."

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians were renewed a year ago in Annapolis, Md., under U.S. auspices.

Bush’s administration last week shepherded the codification of the Annapolis pledge of Palestinian statehood through the U.N. Security Council, essentially underpinning the goal with international law.

"I was pleased to note that the U.N. Secretary Council passed a resolution which confirms that the bilateral negotiation process is irreversible, and it’s a path to a Palestinian state and a path to peace in the Middle East," Bush told Abbas.

Separately, the U.S. State Department called on Hamas, the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip, to bring an end to the recent intensification of violence on Israel’s southern border.

"The interests of the people of the region, both Palestinians in Gaza as well as Israelis, are served by not having violence along that border," spokesman Sean McCormack said Dec. 19. "The people of Gaza have been ill served by Hamas. Hamas has only sought to create tensions and to try to derail efforts to arrive at a peaceful political solution between Israel and the Palestinians."

Hamas on that day declared an end to a six-month cease-fire that somewhat reduced tensions along the border.

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