Bush ends Israel, West Bank visit with peace deal prediction

. ( dpa ) - US President George W Bush concluded a three- day visit to Israel and the West Bank Friday, during which he expressed optimism the sides could wrap up a peace treaty by the time he leaves office, despite the "tough choices" which lie ahead. Both Israeli and Palestinian officials expressed satisfaction with the visit. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev defined as "acceptable" a statement by Bush Thursday night summing up his talks with leaders from both sides. "We view the statement positively," he said.

President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, had earlier said Palestinians were "pleased" with what they heard during Bush's meeting with the Palestinian leader in Ramallah on Thursday. "It was encouraging and comforting," he said.

Regev said the sides would pick up long-delayed peace talks next week. Both Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told respective Palestinian and Israeli negotiators Ahmed Qureia and Tzipi Livni "to immediately start talks on all the core issues," he told journalists in Jerusalem.

The sides renewed the peace process in November, at the Annapolis, Maryland conference which was hosted by Bush. "We believe it is possible to achieve by the end of this year, by the end of 2008, an historic agreement with the Palestinians," Regev said. Bush, summing up his two days of talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah, said in his Thursday night statement that a "peace agreement should happen, and can happen, by the end of this year", although both sides would have to make "painful political concessions." "There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967," he said, adding that the establishment of a Palestinian state was "long overdue," and also expressing support for Israeli security.

He also backed Israel's wish to keep its main settlement blocs in the West Bank when he said the peace deal should "reflect current realities." Any changes to borders should be "mutually agreed, " he however stressed. He additionally called on Israel to end its settlement expansion and remove unauthorized outposts in the West Bank, and on the Palestinians to crack down on militants.

The White House had earlier announced the appointment of General William Frazier as head of the monitoring mechanism to ensure implementation of the road map peace plan, which will be enacted concurrent with the negotiations. In his talks with Olmert and Israeli leaders, Bush also discussed Iran, whose nuclear programme Israel sees as its main existential threat. Regev said Israel emerged from these talks "with the understanding that both the US and Israel are on the same page."

"Both the US and Israel see the gravity of the threat a nuclear- armed Iran poses to both regional and global security," he said. "We cannot accept a nuclear-armed Iran."

Bush, making his first trip in office to Israel and the Palestinian areas, and the first by a sitting US president in nearly a decade, arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on Wednesday afternoon, and held talks with Olmert in the evening. On Thursday he met Abbas and the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, before visiting Bethlehem, and praying at the Church of the Nativity, where Christian tradition holds Jesus Christ was born. The president, a devout born-again Christian, described it as a "moving moment," and said that "for those of us who practise the Christian faith, there's really no more holy site than the place where our Saviour was born."

The president also met with Tony Blair, now the envoy of the so-called Middle East Quartet of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, and was briefed on the efforts to help Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad build viable institutions for Palestinian statehood.

Bush began his day Friday with a visit to Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, which he toured with Olmert, President Shimon Peres and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Yad Vashem's director, Avner Shalev, said the president had tears in his eyes during the tour, and told Rice the US should have bombed the Auschwitz death camp during World War II.

Wearing a yarmulke, Bush also laid a red-white-and-blue wreath on the resting place for ashes collected from the gas chambers of six Nazi death camps in Yad Vashem's Hall of Remembrance.

He called his visit to the memorial a "moving experience" and a "sobering reminder that evil exists and a call that when we find evil we must resist it."

From Yad Vashem Bush then went by helicopter to the biblical town of Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus lived for much of his ministry and the home of his disciples Peter, Andrew and Matthew.

He was shown around the site by two brown-robed Franciscan friars, who read him passages from the gospels and took him to a 5th-century synagogue built on the ruins of a 1st-century synagogue where Christians believe Jesus preached. He then visited the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. Archbishop Elias Shakour showed him around the site and he spoke with several nuns before entering a Church. He was then whisked by helicopter to Ben Gurion Airport where, in a brief farewell ceremony, he promised to return to Israel for the country's 60th anniversary celebrations in May.

The presidential plane, Air Force 1, left Israel at about 1130 GMT for Kuwait, the next stop on the president's eight-day regional tour.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
SpaceX capsule with world's first all-civilian orbital crew splashes down off Florida
SpaceX capsule with world's first all-civilian orbital crew splashes down off Florida
Indian gov't asks states to analyze COVID-19 situation, strengthen health infrastructure
Indian gov't asks states to analyze COVID-19 situation, strengthen health infrastructure
Abu Dhabi to remove COVID-19 testing requirement at border starting Sep. 19
Abu Dhabi to remove COVID-19 testing requirement at border starting Sep. 19
Loading Bars
Latest
SpaceX capsule with world's first all-civilian orbital crew splashes down off Florida
Indian gov't asks states to analyze COVID-19 situation, strengthen health infrastructure
Abu Dhabi to remove COVID-19 testing requirement at border starting Sep. 19
Facebook says WSJ allegations are 'mischaracterizations,' confer 'false motives'
Information made by Russian Defense Ministry regrettable - Azerbaijani Defense Ministry
EU eyes to expand project on creating 'green technologies' in Azerbaijan
Islamic State claims responsibility for attack on Syrian gas pipeline
Geostat shares data on nominal GDP in Georgia
Security Council voices concern over political strife in Somalia
Italy reports 51 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, 4,578 new cases
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price slightly falling
Another visit of Shusha residents to their hometown organized
Three killed in blasts in Afghan city of Jalalabad
Meeting of Azerbaijani and Russian military seamen held in Baku (PHOTO)
Ukraine intends to purchase textile products from Uzbekistan
Georgia's bean imports decrease
Kazakhstan-Croatia trade down y-o-y
Group of Azerbaijani pilots returns home after partaking in Turkey-held military exercises
Azerbaijan records slight decline in volume of cargo shipments via local ports in 8M2021
Iran's Subsidies Targeting Organization makes payments in agriculture sector
Representatives of Azerbaijani Air Force to take part in Teknofest-2021 festival
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez reshuffles cabinet after political crisis
Iran to increase area of olive gardens
OIC Ombudsmen Association sums up results of fact-finding mission to Azerbaijani Karabakh (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan's Shusha holding concert within Int'l Music Festival of famous composer Uzeyir Hajibayli (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani First VP Mehriban Aliyeva shares post related to National Music Day on Instagram (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani mortar units continue intensive combat trainings (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 2,042 more COVID-19 cases, 3,224 recoveries
Azerbaijan and Georgia remain not only neighbors, but strategic partners - PM
Armenian military expert confirms use of Iskander missiles by Armenia against Azerbaijan
Uzbekistan Airways Technics opens tender for provision of services for sale of materials
Azerbaijan to promote famous composer Uzeyir Hajibayli's heritage worldwide - minister
Number of transactions on Uzbek stock exchange increases
Russian Navy's Caspian Fleet arrive in Baku port
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for September 18
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Uzbekistan reveals number of vaccinated citizens as of September 18
Iran, Tajikistan to increase trade ties
Turkmenistan considers resuming gas supply to Iran
Azerbaijan's Azermash launches new production line for vehicles
Volume of essential products imported to Iran through ports up
Kazakhstan boosts trade with Romania despite global pandemic
U.S. NTSB to probe fatal Tesla crash in Florida
Uzbekistan's private airline performs first flight to UAE
Azerbaijan and Iran hold discussions in connection with Gorus-Gafan road
Kazakh oil company to purchase pipes through tender
Georgia shares data on COVID-19 cases for September 18
MFA's of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan hold political consultations
Renowned Azerbaijani cultural figures arrive in Shusha
OSCE publishes interim report on local elections in Georgia
Azerbaijan’s Baku Metro opens tender to buy insulating materials
Uzbekneftegaz opens tender to buy equipment for turboexpander units
Kazakhstan's oil, gas company to purchase steel via tender
Weekly review of key developments in Azerbaijan's transport sector
IRICA shares data on import of COVID-19 vaccine to Iran
Azerbaijani oil prices up
Iran, Tajikistan sign several bilateral cooperation documents
Film on renowned Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli produced in Los Angeles
Russia organizes another charter flight to bring its citizens back from Turkmenistan
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Uzbekistan shares COVID-19 data for September 18
Iranian currency rates for September 18
Iran requires investment for development of joint gas fields - MP
USAID to allocate funds for Georgia to fight COVID-19
Who was behind WB's falsification of data on Azerbaijan in 'Doing Business' reports?
Turkmenistan’s Turkmenbashi oil refineries extends tender for overhaul
Iran receives batch of COVID-19 vaccine from Austria
Monetary conditions in Azerbaijan becoming anti-inflationary - Central Bank
SCO begins Iran's full membership process - MFA
Iran sees decrease in unemployment rate in Tehran
Uzbekneftegaz shares data on weekly oil prices on exchange trading
Gunman convicted in deadly Colorado school shooting gets life without parole
Hydrogen projects to raise demand for water supply via desalination
Oil prices to fall due to rising global oil supply, rather than dwindling demand
Akkuyu NPP construction never stopped for an hour despite pandemic — Rosatom chief
Beijing Stock Exchange specifies investor access thresholds
2,901 more COVID-19 cases reported in Kazakhstan
Georgia shows strong commitment to transitioning to clean energy - GGF
USAID supports citizen engagement in improving infrastructure in Balakan, Gakh and Zagatala (PHOTO/VİDEO)
Argentina's Fernandez reshuffles Cabinet after crisis week
Yemen's gov't complains to UNSC over Houthi attack on Mocha port
U.S. probes possible insider trading at Binance
UN Security Council extends Afghan mission mandate for six months
Oil prices decline amid U.S. dollar strength
G20 meeting on Afghanistan planned for September 22
Algeria's former President Bouteflika dies at 84
Turkey reports 27,692 daily COVID-19 cases
Taliban official discusses plans for fixed govt.
S. Korea shortens list of foreign arrivals subject to 2-week mandatory quarantine
Over 634,000 Afghans displaced by conflicts this year - UN agency
France recalls envoys in U.S, Australia over submarine deal
Russia to boost production of vaccines to 45 mln doses a month
Pentagon says Kabul drone strike killed 10 civilians in 'tragic mistake'
Turkey's chemical exports to Turkmenistan grow in 7M2021
UK removes 8 countries, including Turkey, from red travel list
Report of US Commission on Int'l Religious Freedom is biased - head of Azerbaijani State Committee (PHOTO)
OIC Ombudsmen Association's delegations inspects monument "Maraga-150" in Tartar (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan to resume flights
Turkmenistan, UN talk creation of national database on SDGs
All news