[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George W. Bush (2008, Book I)]
[January 10, 2008]
[Pages 65-66]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]



Remarks on the Middle East Peace Process in Jerusalem, Israel
January 10, 2008

    Good afternoon. I'd like to first thank Prime Minister 
Olmert and President Abbas for their hospitality during my trip here to the Holy 
Land. We've had very good meetings, and now is the time to make 
difficult choices.
    I underscored to both Prime Minister Olmert 
and President Abbas that progress needs to be 
made on four parallel tracks. First, both sides need to fulfill their 
commitments under the roadmap. Second, the Palestinians need to build 
their economy and their political and security institutions. And to do 
that, they need the help of Israel, the region, and the international 
community. Third, I reiterate my appreciation for the Arab League Peace 
Initiative, and I call upon the Arab countries to reach out to Israel, a 
step that is long overdue.
    In addition to these three tracks, both sides are getting down to 
the business of negotiating. I called upon both 
leaders to make sure their teams negotiate 
seriously, starting right now. I strongly supported the decision of the 
two leaders to continue their regular summit meetings, because they are 
the ones who can and must and, I am convinced, will lead.
    I share with these two leaders the vision of two democratic states, 
Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Both of 
these leaders believe that the outcome is in the interest of their 
peoples and are determined to arrive at a negotiated solution to achieve 
it.
    The point of departure for permanent status negotiations to realize 
this vision seems clear. There should be an end to the occupation that 
began in 1967. The agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for 
the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish 
people. These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, 
recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state 
of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.
    It is vital that each side understands that satisfying the other's 
fundamental objectives is key to a successful agreement. Security for 
Israel and viability for the Palestinian state are in the mutual 
interests of both parties.
    Achieving an agreement will require painful political concessions by 
both sides. While territory is an issue for both parties to decide, I 
believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually 
agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current 
realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and 
contiguous. I believe we need to look to the establishment of a 
Palestinian state and new international mechanisms, including 
compensation, to resolve the refugee issue.
    I reaffirm to each leader that implementation of any agreement is subject 
to implementation of the roadmap. Neither party should undertake any 
activity that contravenes roadmap obligations or prejudices the final 
status negotiations. On the Israeli side, that includes ending 
settlement expansion and removing unauthorized outposts. On the 
Palestinian side, that includes confronting terrorists and dismantling 
terrorist infrastructure.
    I know Jerusalem is a tough issue. Both sides have deeply felt 
political and religious concerns. I fully understand that finding a 
solution to this issue will be one of the most difficult challenges on 
the road to peace, but that is the road we have chosen to walk.
    Security is fundamental. No agreement and no Palestinian state will 
be born of terror. I reaffirm America's steadfast commitment to Israel's 
security.

[[Page 66]]

    The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue. The 
Palestinian people deserve it, and it will enhance the stability of the 
region, and it will contribute to the security of the people of Israel. 
The peace agreement should happen and can happen by the end of this 
year. I know each leader shares that important goal, and I am committed 
to doing all I can to achieve it.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 5:27 p.m. at the King David Hotel. In his 
remarks, he referred to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel; and 
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.