Remarks With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
PRESIDENT ABBAS: Ladies and gentlemen, in the name of Allah (inaudible) I would like to welcome Dr. Rice and thank her for the efforts she's making for a cease-fire and to implement a just and sustainable peace in the area. And I agree with President Bush and Dr. Rice that it is necessary to deal with the problems at their roots, that is, to find a radical execution of all (inaudible) objectives on the basis of Mr. Bush's vision and the diminishing of the Israeli occupation, which started in 1967 as was stated in the roadmap.
The attacks on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank must stop immediately. And we must reinforce that clearly between both sides so that we can restart a meaningful peace process that will lead to diminishment of the occupation and of the conflict. It is also necessary to stop the attacks against Lebanon, which is being destroyed at this very moment. A cease-fire must be reached and start negotiation with the Lebanese Government in order to solve this crisis and to exit this disastrous situation, which the Palestinian people is living.
The violence is the natural result of the absence of peace. Therefore, we must aim through a much more efforts in order to reinforce a comprehensive peace in the area away from any dictatations or colonization activity and war and all of the policies that aim to create an effect on the ground. What is needed now is that immediate ceasefire and putting off all of the fires. And we will not save any effort to continue endeavoring to achieve a cooling down on mutual and continuous basis with the Israeli side and then revise that political process.
We are also endeavoring with all of the means available to us to ensure release of the Israeli soldiers, and in the same time we hope that Israel and the world realize the suffering of 10,000 Palestinian families whose sons and daughters are detained in the Israeli prisons. Some of them have been in such detention centers for about three decades.
On the internal level, we are making tremendous efforts, especially after the agreement on the National Concensus documents to form a Palestinian government with an agenda on the basis of Arab and international legitimacy and which includes UN resolutions and the Quartet Resolution and the commitments made by the Palestinian National Authority. These efforts have withhalted since the beginning of Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip.
Finally, the suffering of the people in Lebanon in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank is beyond any endurance of any human being and an end must be put to this suffering. Once again, I would like to thank Dr. Rice for her visit and for the quite constructive talks we've had with her.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Mr. President and let me start by again saying to you how very much admiration there is for you in the United States with the President for your courage and for your continued leadership of the Palestinian people. I know that this is an extraordinarily difficult time for the Palestinian people as well as for other innocent people in the region including, of course, the Lebanese and innocent Israelis, and we need to get to a sustainable peace for this region. That is really the problem. There must be a way for people to reconcile their differences and to move forward toward peace.
I had the opportunity to brief President Abbas on the efforts that we are making to bring about an urgent but enduring cease-fire in Lebanon, one that can deal with the causes of extremism that began this crisis and that can also lead to the establishment of sovereignty for the Lebanese Government throughout its territory and the ability then to act on the basis of Resolution 1559 (inaudible). And I also briefed the President on what we will be doing at the Rome conference to try and move that agenda forward.
I assured the President that we have great concerns about the sufferings of innocent people throughout the region. In that regard we talked, of course, about the fact that even as the Lebanon situation resolves we must remain focused on what is happening here in the Palestinian territories on our desires to get back on a course that will lead ultimately to the President's vision and deep vision of President Abbas — President Bush's vision, but indeed the vision of President Abbas, of two states living side by side in peace. It is important that we end the Gaza crisis and I know that the President is working hard to do that and to create the conditions on which that can end. But I also said to the President that I have been speaking with the Israelis about the need to implement the November agreement on movement and access so that the Palestinian people can have a means for economic — their economic health and that the humanitarian considerations and concerns of the Palestinian people can be taken care of.
All and all, this was a very useful and constructive discussion. We are working with the Palestinian Authority and with its duly elected President on multiple fronts, on the security front, on the economic front. The United States continues to provide humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people and we have done all that we can to reprogram and to program even more humanitarian assistance. But we need to be able to make progress because the Palestinian people have lived too long in violence and in a sense of the daily humiliations that go along with the circumstances here.
And so, Mr. President, you have our pledge that our common work of bringing a two-state solution to the people of Palestine and to the people of Israel that we will not tire in our efforts. And I thank you again for welcoming me here and I look forward to our continuing work.
Released on July 25, 2006