- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 15, 2008

JERUSALEM President Bush today predicted in the broadest of brush strokes the defeat of Islamic radicals giving way in the next 60 years to a Middle East where peace and democracy would prevail.

The tone of unequivocal U.S. support for Israel in Mr. Bush’s speech to the Israeli Knesset was noteworthy in that the president made no mention of ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Some Israeli analysts wondered if Mr. Bush’s six-decade vision was intended to lower expectations for the outcome of the peace talks and his previously stated goal of a broad agreement before the end of his second term.

“Israel will be celebrating its 120th anniversary as one of the world’s greatest democracies,” Mr. Bush said of the future.

The Palestinian people will have a homeland, a democratic state that is governed by law, respects human rights and rejects terror.”

“From Cairo to Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies,” the president said.

Three Arab-Israeli lawmakers were escorted out of the chamber at the beginning of the speech after holding up a banner reading, “We shall overcome,” Reuters reported.

Mr. Bush is in Israel to celebrate the 60th birthday of the Jewish state.

The date is commemorated by Palestinians and much of the Arab world as the Nakba, or catastrophe, because Israel’s 1948 war for independence displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinians released black balloons to mark the day.

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