Saturday, January 05, 2008

FACTBOX: Bush on Middle East conflict through the years

Thu Jan 3, 2008

(Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush will visit Israel and the West Bank next week as part of a Middle East tour to push a fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace effort.

Here are some of his statements on the conflict since he took office almost seven years ago:

* "An end to occupation and a peaceful democratic Palestinian state may seem distant, but America and our partners throughout the world stand ready to help, help you (the Palestinian people) make them possible as soon as possible." -- White House speech, June 24, 2002

* The president said his job was "to keep the thing moving, to keep the process moving," adding "I used the expression 'ride herd.' I don't know if anybody understood it in the meeting today." -- Briefing with reporters on Air Force One, June 4, 2003

* "In order for there to be peace in the Middle East, we must see organizations such as Hamas dismantled." -- White House news conference, June 25, 2003

* "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers (in the West Bank), it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." -- White House news conference, April 14, 2004

* "It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel." -- letter to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, April 14, 2004

* "The Palestinian people have voted in elections -- now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism and work for a lasting peace." -- State of the Union speech, January 31, 2006

* "The outcome of the negotiations they launch here depends on the Israelis and Palestinians themselves. America will do everything in our power to support their quest for peace, but we cannot achieve it for them. The success of these efforts will require that all parties show patience and flexibility -- and meet their responsibilities." -- Speech during the Annapolis, Maryland, conference, November 27, 2007

* Asked how confident he is about getting an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the end of 2008, Bush said: "I feel good about it." -- Reuters interview, January 3, 2008

((Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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