WASHINGTON – President Bush's reiteration of support for a Palestinian nation drew immediate criticism from Israeli officials who say there is no point in talking as long as violence continues in the Middle East.
At a news conference Thursday night, Bush said he believed that if the parties in the Middle East could end the latest flareups of violence and once again begin political talks, then "there ought to be a Palestinian state, the boundaries of which would be negotiated by the parties."
The Palestinian nation would have to recognize Israel's right to exist, the president said.
Bush also said he was also pleased that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat "is trying to control the radical elements within the Palestinian Authority."
"I think the world ought to applaud him for that," Bush said.
Israel has accused Arafat of not doing enough to rein in militants, such as arresting those suspected of attacking Israelis.
"Arafat is doing everything he can to prove that he is not a partner for peace," Israeli Cabinet Minister Dan Naveh told Israel Radio on Friday. "In the present situation, there is nothing to talk about and no one to talk to."
Palestinian Cabinet Minister Ziad Abu-Zayyad said Palestinians "fully support President Bush's statement." He said the Palestinians recognize a "two-state solution" with a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza.