- The Washington Times - Friday, October 21, 2005

In his meeting on Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, President Bush drove home the point that Mr. Abbas needs to act against terrorists operating in the West Bank and Gaza. While fulsomely praising Mr. Abbas as a man “devoted to peace,” Mr. Bush also emphasized the need for the PA to take action. “The way forward must begin by confronting the threat that armed gangs pose to a genuinely democratic Palestine,” Mr. Bush said, adding that the PA “must confront the threat that armed gangs pose to a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Mr. Bush, whose road map initially set a goal of creating a Palestinian state by 2005, said for the first time that a Palestinian state may not be created during his term in office. Last year, he pushed the goal back to 2008. On Thursday, he suggested that such a state may not be created during his presidency. “I’d like to see two states,” he said, with Mr. Abbas standing by his side in the Rose Garden. “And if it happens before I get out of office, I’ll be there to witness the ceremony. And if it doesn’t, we will work hard to lay that foundation so that process becomes irreversible.”

Mr. Bush also talked about the need to build economic and financial support for Palestinians in the international community, and he pinpointed some projects by name, including “opening the Rafah crossing, connecting the West Bank and Gaza, improving the ability of Palestinians to travel in the West Bank, and beginning work on the Gaza seaport. These are all practical steps that’ll help the Palestinian economy grow and flourish.” We concur.

Mr. Abbas has the security forces in place to begin disarming the terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza. As yet, however, he has refused to crack down. Mr. Bush urged Mr. Abbas to take act prior to the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January. American policy-makers must persuade Mr. Abbas that he has no alternative but to do so.

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