( dpa ) - US President George W Bush on Friday opened his third and final day of talks in Israel and the Palestinian areas with a visit to Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
Accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Shimon Peres and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Bush was guided through Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum, which he called a "moving experience" and a "sobering reminder that evil exists and a call that when we find evil we must resist it."
"I was most impressed that people in the face of horror and evil would not forsake their god," he said in a brief statement after rekindling an eternal flame and laying a wreath on a resting place for ashes collected from gas chambers of six Nazi death camps in Yad Vashem's Hall of Remembrance.
A devout, born-again Christian, Bush was next scheduled to fly by helicopter to the Mount of Beatitudes, where tradition has it Jesus gave his most well-known address, the Sermon on the Mount, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. Bush is then to fly on board Air Force One to Kuwait for the next leg of his Middle East tour.
Bush, who met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah Thursday, summed up his previous two days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders by saying the establishment of a Palestinian state was "long overdue."
"There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967," he said in a statement at his Jerusalem King David hotel Thursday evening.
Both sides would have to make "painful political concessions," he said. He reiterated his backing of Israel's wish to keep its key settlement blocs in the West Bank when he said the border of the future Palestinian state should "reflect current realities."
He added, however, that any changes to the 1949 armistice lines must be "mutually agreed."
He also called on Israel to "end settlement expansion" and on the Palestinians to confront militants.
In his joint news conference with Abbas, Bush said earlier in Ramallah that he believed Israel and the Palestinians would sign a peace deal by the end of 2008, addressing widespread scepticism of his push for peace before he leaves office in January 2009.Bush also toured Christian holy sites in Bethlehem and ended his day Thursday with a festive dinner with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem.
Calling also his visit to Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, believed to mark the site where Jesus was born, "a moving moment," he said, "for those of us who practise the Christian faith, there's really no more holy site than the place where our Saviour was born."
He also referred to Israel's security barrier, which in the area of Bethlehem is a seven-metre-high concrete wall separating it from southern Jerusalem, saying that "some day I hope that as a result of a formation of a Palestinian state there won't be walls and checkpoints."