- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 21, 2002

President Bush said yesterday that Israel must continue its pullout from Palestinian cities, but he did not renew his earlier demands for an immediate end to its West Bank offensive.
"To defuse the current crisis, the Palestinian Authority must act on its words of condemnation against terror. Israel must continue its withdrawals," Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address.
"All Arab nations must confront terror in their own region. All parties must stop funding or inciting terror and must state clearly that a murderer is not a martyr; he or she is just a murderer," the president said.
Although many have criticized Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's recent visit to the Middle East for failing to achieve a cease-fire between the Israelis and Palestinians, Mr. Bush said yesterday that "Secretary Powell made progress toward peace."
"In this region, we are confronting hatred that is centuries old, and disputes that have lingered for decades. Yet America has a vision for peace. America will continue to work toward this vision of peace in the Middle East," Mr. Bush said.
"All parties must realize that the only long-term solution is for two states Israel and Palestine to live side-by-side in security and peace. This will require hard choices and real leadership by Israelis and Palestinians and their Arab neighbors," the president added.
Interviewed yesterday on CNN's "Saturday Edition with Jonathan Karl," Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, called Mr. Powell's visit to the Middle East a "success, because it shows effort by the United States at the highest levels to do our very best, and he has set the stage for further activity."
Mr. Specter also urged Mr. Bush to take up former President Clinton's offer to play a role in bringing about peace in the Middle East.
"President Bush ought to call upon former President Clinton for consultation and advice. Former President Clinton has a lot of experience in the area. He knows the players He knows Sharon. He knows Arafat. And I think his advice would be invaluable," Mr. Specter said.
The Pennyslvania Republican said he has already made that suggestion to Mr. Bush. Mr. Specter said the president would seek Mr. Clinton's help if Mr. Bush believes the fformer president could be of assistance.
"President Bush wants to solve these problems," Mr. Specter said.
He stressed he does not believe Mr. Clinton "should be in the position of negotiator or out front because President Bush is the president, and he has his team, and he has Secretary of State Powell, [who is] widely, widely respected."
"The inputs from President Clinton could be helpful, but it's still the Bush administration out front," Mr. Specter said.
The White House did not respond directly when asked if it would consider seeking advice or help from Mr. Clinton to try to resolve the Mideast crisis. But it seemed to indicate it will stay the course Mr. Bush has charted.
"The president has outlined a clear blueprint for the pathway to peace in the Middle East. Secretary Powell, Gen. [Anthony] Zinni and the team in the region have made progress. We and the international community are focused on bringing the parties together," said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan.
Mr. Bush's comments yesterday that suicide bombers are murderers, and not martyrs, was significant as he made it before his scheduled meeting Thursday at his Texas ranch with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia's King Fahd ordered a telethon to help relatives of Palestinian "martyrs." But the Saudi Embassy in Washington said the term did not refer to suicide bombers but to "Palestinians who are victimized by Israeli terror and violence."
At Thursday's meeting, Prince Abdullah is expected to offer to increase oil production to make up for a shortfall caused by the possibility of an Islamic oil embargo, the London Sunday-Telegraph reported today.

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