Ensure Stability in Middle East By Building Just, Free Societies

By George W. Bush

Published September 03, 2004, issue of September 03, 2004.

For more than a generation, the United States and Israel have been steadfast allies. Our nations are bound by our shared values and a strong commitment to freedom. These ties that have made us natural allies will never be broken.

Israel and the United States share a common history: We are both nations born of struggle and sacrifice. We are both founded by immigrants escaping religious persecution in other lands. Through the labors and strides of generations, we have both built vibrant democracies, founded in the rule of law and market economies. And we are both countries established with certain basic beliefs: that God watches over the affairs of men and values every human life.

September 11, 2001, awakened Americans to the knowledge that we can no longer depend on geography to protect us from the heinous acts of terrorists. We experienced the horror of a brutal attack on our own soil — terror flooded our streets, and entered our places of work. With this experience came a better realization of the struggles borne every day by the people of Israel, and we developed an even stronger determination to defeat terrorism and to eliminate the threat it poses to free people everywhere.

Terrorism has many faces, but all those who use terror as a weapon against free people burn with the same hatred and the same will to destroy. To build the lasting peace that we both seek in all corners of the globe, we must use every resource to defeat terror and ensure our security. America has led a relentless global campaign against terrorists and their supporters, and we are glad to have Israel at our side.

We are pursuing a global strategy to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

We have already stopped shipments of chemical precursors and components bound for states that sponsor terror. By standing up for our principles, countries like Libya have renounced their weapons of mass destruction programs. And other nations will follow.

We are mobilizing the international community to join in our efforts to eliminate the threat of nuclear proliferation that Iran poses to the Middle East and to the world, and we have already seen results. Through the influence of European countries, we have obtained a commitment from Iran to comply with the additional International Atomic Energy Agency protocol. And the IAEA is beginning to take stronger action against Iran, bringing us closer to ending its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

For the sake of peace and security, we ended the regime of Saddam Hussein. That regime cast a dark shadow of aggression over the Middle East for decades. The regime invaded its neighbors and used weapons of mass destruction not only against its neighbors, but also against its own people. This terror-sponsoring regime defied the demands of the free world for more than a decade. We acted to end its reign of terror, and because of our actions, America and Israel are more secure, the Middle East is growing more stable and the world is better off.

The peace we seek depends on defeating the violent, but the mission we pursue throughout the world is so much greater: the ideology of terrorism must be conquered and overcome. Terrorists find influence and recruits in societies where bitterness and resentment are common, and hope and opportunity are rare. Our best hope for lasting security and stability across the Middle East is the establishment of just and free societies. And so across that vital region, America is standing for the expansion of human liberty.

Freedom is at the heart of our approach to bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. My administration is strongly committed to the security of Israel as a vibrant Jewish state.

For the sake of peace, we are committed to helping the Palestinian people establish a democratic and viable state of their own. Israel will benefit from a truly responsible partner in seeking to achieve peace. The Palestinian people deserve democratic institutions and responsible leaders. Progress toward this vision creates responsibilities for Israel, the Palestinian people and Arab nations. It is essential to the successful establishment of peace that all parties renounce violence and mutually pursue the war against terror.

Security is the foundation for peace. All parties must embrace democracy and reform and take the necessary steps for peace. I am troubled by the violence in Gaza and it underscores the need for all parties to seize every opportunity for peace. I strongly support the plan announced by Prime Minister Sharon to withdraw military installations and settlements from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. This plan is a bold and courageous step that can bring us closer to the goal of two states — Israel and Palestine — living side by side in peace and security.

Sharon’s disengagement decision has given the Palestinian people and the free world a chance to take bold steps of their own toward peace. We must now call upon the Palestinian people to reject their corrupt and failed leaders and insist on a leadership committed to reform, progress and peace. When they renounce the terror and violence that frustrate their aspirations and cost so many innocent lives, they will have the opportunity to build a modern economy, creating the institutions and developing the habits of liberty. The Palestinian people deserve a better future, just as the people of Israel deserve a better future. And democracy will deliver this future to us all.

A lasting peace in the Holy Land has been both a shining vision and a venerable international goal for generations. Our vision is a Middle East where borders are crossed for purposes of trade and commerce, not crossed for the purposes of murder and war. Our vision is a Middle East in which the shadow cast by terror is removed, and where fear and threats are only a distant memory. This vision is within our grasp if we have the faith, the courage and the resolve to achieve it.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to peace is found in the hearts of men and women. The Jewish people have seen, over the years and over the centuries, that hate prepares the way for violence. The refusal to expose and confront intolerance can lead to crimes beyond imagining. So we have a duty to expose and confront anti-Semitism, wherever it is found.

Anti-Semitism is not a problem of the past; the hatred of Jews has not ceased. This intolerable hatred can still be found in the Middle East, and our nation will continue to call upon Arab governments to end libels and incitements. The demonization of Israel, using anti-Zionist rhetoric, can be a flimsy cover for anti-Semitism, and can contribute to an atmosphere of fear in which synagogues are desecrated, reputations are slandered, and people are threatened. I will continue to call upon our friends around the world to renounce and fight any sign of anti-Semitism in their midst.

We are living through historic times. And together, the United States and Israel are being called to do important work in the world. We will stand together against bigotry in every land and every language, and we will not rest until we have defeated the violent men with patient, determined justice. Through our resolute efforts, human freedom and the peace that freedom brings will prevail.

The people of Israel should know they have a friend in the United States. We remain dedicated to peace and security in the Middle East and in every corner of the globe.



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