Bush calls for international regional peace conference of Israel, Palestinians and neighbors

In a statement of Middle East policy, the US president stressed that all the participants in such a conference chaired by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice must recognize Israel’s right to exist and a two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. debkafile: Egypt, Jordan and Qatar are the only Arab rulers likely to attend such a conference.
Referring to the Quartet meeting in Lisbon Thursday, Bush outlined a plan for international sponsorship of the Mahmoud Abbas government in Ramallah.
He pledged $190 m in US aid this year, another $208 m in loans to Palestinian businesses and $80 m for helping to reform Palestinian security services. Bush urged the Palestinians to choose the path of moderation rather than extremism and terror offered by Hamas which he said seized control of Gaza illegally. He commended the new Middle East envoy Tony Blair’s role in helping the Palestinians establish ruling institutions free of corruption.
Bush repeated his frequent assertion that the Palestinians are entitled to a stable viable and contiguous state, adjusted to the current realities, while calling on Israel to remove unauthorized outposts and halt settlement expansion on the West Bank. The US, he said is committed to the security of Israel as a Jewish state.

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