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Bush: Israel Must End Occupation of Territories Captured in 1967

  • VOA News

US President George Bush has called for Israel to end its occupation of territories captured in 1967, and for Israelis and Palestinians to make the "difficult choices" needed for a peace accord.

Following two days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the president said on Thursday he believes both sides are determined to reach an agreement on two states existing side by side in peace and security.

He said peace talks must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized and defensible borders, and that a Palestinian state is viable, contiguous and sovereign.

Mr. Bush also said establishing a Palestinian state will improve stability in the region.

Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six-Day War. Mr. Bush acknowledged that the future of Jerusalem is a "tough issue" because both sides claim it as their capital.

Palestinian leaders have demanded the captured territory be included in a future Palestinian state. The Gaza Strip is now ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Earlier today, President Bush said he believes there will be a signed peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians by the time he leaves office a year from now.

He also said he expects Israel and the Palestinians to "honor their obligations under the road map" peace plan. He named a top US general to help monitor Israeli and Palestinian roadmap commitments. General William Fraser is assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top US military post.

An international quartet including the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations drew up the "roadmap" in 2003. It calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

President Bush is on a Middle East tour that will also take him to Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

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