( dpa ) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have to come together to make "tough choices" for the peace process to succeed, and he intended to "nudge the process forward," President George W Bush said Thursday.
"I have come to the conclusion that both men understand the importance of two democratic states living side by side in peace," he told a news conference in Ramallah after talks with Abbas and the Palestinian leadership.
Not only was it possible for Israelis and Palestinians to work out their differences, he said, but "it is necessary."
"I believe there will be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office," he said. "I am confident that with the proper help the state of Palestine can emerge."
The president, who arrived in Israel Wednesday and met with Israeli leaders, said that in their meeting he and Abbas had also talked of the need to fight extremists.
"The world we live in today is a dangerous one because there are those who murder innocent people to achieve political objectives," he said.
"The way to achieve peace is to offer an alternative vision," he said.
"I believe in the universality of freedom," he said. "And I also believe free societies yield peace. Therefore this notion of two states living side by side in peace is based upon the universality of freedom."
Bush was due to lunch in Ramallah, and hold more talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, before setting off to visit the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem.
He is due to depart on Friday for Kuwait, the next stop on his eight-day regional tour.