U.S. President George W. Bush reiterated Tuesday his demand that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas combat terror, saying the PA must detach itself from terror organizations following Israel’s pullout from Gaza.
“Abbas has made a commitment to fight off the violence because he understands a democracy can't exist with terrorist groups trying to take the law into their own hands,” the president told reporters at a resort in Donnelly, Idaho.
Bush praised Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for his decision to withdraw from Gaza, adding that the move “has really changed the dynamics on the ground and has provided hope for the Palestinian people” and improved the prospects for the so-called roadmap to peace.
Calling this a "very hopeful period," the president said the world must "stay focused on Gaza and helping the Gaza economy get going, helping rebuild the settlements for the people of Gaza.”
"My vision and my hope is that one day we'll see two states -- two democratic states -- living side by side in peace," Bush said.
Getting back to Road Map
He added that the next step after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza would be establishing a working Palestinian government there and suggested
"Of course you want to get back to the 'road map,"' Bush said. "But I understand that in order for this process to go forward there must be confidence: Confidence that the Palestinian people would have in their own government to perform; the confidence with the Israelis that they'll see a peaceful state emerging.
"And, therefore, it's very important for the world to stay focused on Gaza and helping ... the Gaza economy get going, helping rebuild the settlements for Gaza, for the people of Gaza," he said.
Bush also called for a renewed push to consolidate Palestinian security forces. He said these forces were divided into factions and were not designed to "protect the overall security of the Palestinian people."
"It's in the interest to consolidate those security forces so that the government has a vehicle and a group of folks by which to help enforce order," he said.
News agencies contributed to this report.