Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to immediately relaunch long-stalled negotiations in an effort to reach a two-state peace accord before the end of 2008.
President Bush made the announcement as he opened a Middle East peace conference on Tuesday in Annapolis, Maryland. He read a joint document in which the Israeli and Palestinian governments expressed a determination to end decades of bloodshed and usher in an era of peace.
Following Mr. Bush's remarks, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for the Palestinians to have East Jerusalem as their capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in his comments, said settling the conflict will be painful, but is inevitable. He stressed Israel's commitment to the peace process despite Palestinian attacks including rocket launches on parts of southern Israel by militants in Gaza.
In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, Mr. Bush said the Annapolis conference required much planning and groundwork. He said his role in the peace process from this point forward is to make calls, hold meetings, listen and encourage.