SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt – "A few people, a few killers, a few terrorists" cannot act as roadblocks toward a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, President Bush (search) told Arab leaders Tuesday.
Entering the complex maze of Mideast peace negotiations, Bush said all sides must assume responsibility toward achieving peace.
Bush wants a commitment from Arab leaders to end violence that has plagued the region for years and move toward peace with Israel. Such a win would strengthen Bush's hand in winning corresponding concessions from Israel.
"We see the potential for unity against terror," Bush said in a press conference after the meeting. "Achieving these goals will require courage and moral vision on every side from every leader. America is committed and I am committed to helping all the parties."
Tuesday's meetings represented Bush's first major attempt at personally brokering a Middle East peace deal. He has thrown his support behind a "road map" (search) for peace that would lead to creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.
"We welcome the roadmap," Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (search), who hosted the Arab summit, said after the meeting during a press conference. He thanked Bush for his commitment for full implementation of the road map.
Mubarak also said his country would support the Palestinians and "solely" the Palestinian Authority (search) for their part in the road map. He called on Israel to also fulfill its responsibilities "to rebuilt trust and restore normal Palestinian life."
"We will continue to fight the scourge of terrorism against humanity and reject the culture of violence … regardless of justifications or motives, being fully aware of the danger of the plague that threatens the peace and stability of the world," Mubarak said.
Meeting participants also asserted that a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq should be run by Iraqis for Iraqis.
Bush reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to make Iraq "free of weapons of mass destruction and at peace with its neighbors and the world."
He urged Middle Eastern countries to not only clamp down on terrorism but to open their markets and boost trade and challenged them to help create a Middle East free trade area within 10 years. He said the Arab leaders at the summit understand the importance of establishing free institutions and democracy.
"All Middle Eastern countries that travel this challenging path will have the support and friendship of the United States," Bush promised.
Bush made crystal clear that both sides, Israeli and Arab, have responsibility for achieving peace.
"Israel must deal with the settlements, Israel must make sure there's a continuous territory that the Palestinians can call home," he said.
"The world needs to have a Palestinian state that is free and at peace, and therefore my government will work with all parties concerned to achieve that vision."
He said the Arab leaders must close off sources of funding to terrorists and prevent "the terror from gaining a foothold."
"It is in their own self-interests to fight off terror," he said. "It's in their own self-interest to enable a Palestinian state to emerge."
Arab leaders in Sharm el-Sheik indirectly voiced support for Abbas over longtime Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat (search) as the representative of the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel.
The White House has blatantly ignored Arafat's authority and refuses to recognize him as an official leader since he is thought to support terrorists.
Bush, in the post-summit press conference Tuesday, urged the Palestinian people to embrace new leaders "who stand for reform, democracy and for fighting terror."
"All progress toward peace requires a rejection of terror … regardless of its justification or motives," the president added.
Leaders also reaffirmed a two-state solution -- a Palestinian state living without bloodshed alongside Israel.
Diplomatic sources said the Arab leaders probably will renew a March 2002 offer of peace and full recognition of Israel should the Jewish state withdraw from Arab lands it seized in the 1967 Six-Day War.
That's further than Israel has said it is willing to go, but it be one more step toward the Arabs recognizing Israel's right to exist.
Arab relations with Israel are addressed in a premature phase of an internationally drafted "road map" to peace. But Israel and the United States want a fast upgrading of Arab-Israeli relations as a good will gesture and a sign that Arab nations are committed to the broader peace process, the official said.
Last Monday, Sharon stunned many when he said Israel's occupation of the West Bank must end. The remark indicated a 180-degree turnaround for the prime minister after decades of warning that withdrawal from any of the West Bank could endanger Israel's existence.
Critics say Sharon was biding time in hopes Bush's peace plan would fail before tough Israeli concessions were necessary.
Tuesday's meeting "is important to make sure that the Arab leadership is behind and supportive of the road map and the president's efforts," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday.
Other Arab nations needed to "play their part in assisting the Palestinian Authority in restoring their security organizations and capacity," he said.
Powell held meetings late into Monday night with all the Arab foreign ministers. At 2 a.m., Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud knocked on Powell's door and the two had "quite a long discussion," a State Department official told Fox News.
The official did say, however, that various media reports claiming Powell has been pressing Arab leaders for faster normalization with Israel are "not entirely accurate."
Also invited were Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Jordan's King Abdullah II and Abbas. These countries have close ties with the United States. Egypt and Jordan have peace treaties with Israel.
Bush will sit down with Sharon and Abbas on Wednesday in Aqaba -- a meeting viewed as the more crucial and less predictable of the two.
The Bush team will look for a commitment from both Israel and the Palestinians to end violence, the first step required of the "road map" peace plan.
The administration also wants a stronger promise from Israel to begin dismantling settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Sharon has pledged to dismantle illegal outposts, those built without Israeli government sanction. The Arabs say all settlements are illegal.
Bush was expected to name John S. Wolf, assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation and a longtime Foreign Service veteran, to head a new U.S.-led monitoring team that will track whether Israeli and Palestinian officials keep their obligations.
Fox News' Teri Schultz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.