07 May 2002
Bush to Send CIA Director Back to Middle East
(President, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon brief after talks) (2270)
President Bush announced that CIA Director George Tenet will return to
the Middle East in order to help with the rebuilding of the
Palestinian security force.
Speaking at the White House May 7 along with Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon following talks between the two, Bush said the security
force would be transparent, accountable, and unified under a single
The president also said it was important to "seize this moment" to get
on a path towards a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict. "I
want to reiterate what I have said and will continue to say: There are
responsibilities. If people truly want there to be peace, people have
to assume their responsibilities for peace," said Bush.
Asked whether a goal of the peace process should be creation of a
Palestinian state, Bush said "Yes. I haven't changed my position."
To the same question Sharon replied "I think that it's still premature
to discuss this issue. I think what we have to concentrate now is
making every effort that real reform will take place."
Bush said he hoped that the Palestinian leadership understands that
reforming the Palestinian Authority into a more transparent
organization is in their interests as well the interests of the
"I deeply hurt when there is a lack of hope for moms and dads of
anybody -- Palestinian moms and dads -- it bothers me. It bothers me
to think there are some whose children are so hopeless they're willing
to commit suicide. And so one of the things we've got to work for and
one of the things our nation will work for is reforms coupled with
humanitarian help. Reforms with the chance for there to be economic
development, so people can realize a normal life," said Bush.
Following is a transcript of President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister
Sharon after their May 7 meeting at the White House:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
May 7, 2002
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT BUSH AND PRIME MINISTER SHARON IN PHOTO
The Oval Office
4:55 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: I want to welcome Prime Minister Ariel Sharon back to
the Oval Office. We've just had a really good conversation about how
to get on the path to peace. I want peace; our government wants peace;
the Prime Minister is interested in peace, of course. And we had a
good discussion about how to move forward.
One of the things that I think is important -- the Prime Minister has
discussed this, as well -- is for us to immediately begin to help
rebuild a security force in Palestine that will fight terror, that
will bring some stability to the region. I think it's very important
that there be a unified security force; that, at the same time, we
need to work for other institutions -- a constitution, for example, a
framework for development of a state that can help bring security and
hope to the Palestinian people and the Israelis.
And one of the things we've got to make sure that we do is anything,
any vision understands that there are people in Israel who long for
security and peace, people in the Palestinian world who long for
security, peace and economic hope.
To this end, I've told the Prime Minister that George Tenet will be
going back to the region to help construct the -- design the
construction of a security force, a unified security force, that will
be transparent, held accountable.
And so I really am pleased with our conversation. As I've said, there
are responsibilities to be had by all the parties. We discussed those
responsibilities. I told the Prime Minister there's nothing more I
want than to be peace in the region, and that I look forward to
working with him and his government to achieve that peace.
Mr. Prime Minister, welcome. I'm glad you're here.
PRIME MINISTER SHARON: Thanks so much. I'm very glad to have this
opportunity to come again here to visit you, Mr. President. I would
like to thank you for all your efforts. And we need to act against
terror worldwide. We appreciated that. And we appreciate your
leadership and courageous decisions. And, of course, I would like to
thank you for your friendship.
Israel is a peace-seeking country, and we are, after many, many years
being involved in many wars, heavy battles, and now after the last
operation that we carried out against the infrastructure of terror in
Somalia and Judea -- or as you call it, the West Bank -- I believe
that there is a chance now to start and move forward.
We discussed these issues, how to move forward. We emphasized about
the need for reform in the Palestinian Authority, and I think that's
very important. And we discussed the original peace conference that I
advocated, and I believe it's very important. We hope that it will
Altogether, all of us understand the importance of peace, the need for
peace. And I think that we are committed to take every effort and
every step to make peace.
And I would like to thank you again for everything, and for your
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sir.
Q: If you could, first of all, further define what you mean by
"unified" -- if you could, first of all, identify what you mean by
"unified structure." And secondly, more broadly to both of you, your
administration is on record as supporting accelerated peace talks,
dealing with Yasser Arafat, and making Saudi Arabia a key partner.
Prime Minister Sharon favors incremental steps, taking Arafat out of
the process, and he's provided you evidence suggesting that the Saudis
encouraged Palestinian attacks. Have you bridged any of those gaps,
the two of you?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, "unified" means that as opposed to six, seven,
or eight different security forces under six, seven or eight different
commands, there's one command structure. That's what that means.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, Palestinian, exactly.
In terms of the other issues, we discussed a wide range of issues. One
of the things that should becoming apparent to people is that we're in
consultation with not only the Israelis, but other governments -- I
talked to Crown Prince Abdullah today, as well as President Mubarak --
about how best to proceed toward a common vision.
You just heard the Prime Minister talk about the desire for peace. We
had the Saudi Crown Prince stand up and talk about peace and the need
for a peaceful solution. And it's very important for us to seize this
moment, as the Prime Minister mentioned, and lead and get on that
path. And that's exactly what we've talked about.
And I want to reiterate what I've said and will continue to say --
there are responsibilities. If people truly want there to be peace,
people have the assume their responsibilities for peace. And the
Saudis must do that, and they're willing to do that. The Crown Prince,
again, and I talked, and I made it clear to him that we've got to
fight terror in the region for there to be peace, and that he and the
other leaders must work and must convince the Palestinian Authority
that they have got to do everything in their power to lead toward a
At the same time, I emphasized what Ariel has just mentioned, that we
must provide a framework for growth of a potential Palestinian state.
There's got to be the framework for education and health and economic
development, as well as security. And all parties have got
responsibilities in the region to see -- to do their part.
Q: Mr. President -- sorry.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I can't see you. You're blocking her view.
Q: You've said many times that one should not compromise with
terrorism. You said many times that you are disappointed from Yasser
Arafat on the issue of terrorism. Do you think that Israel should
compromise and negotiate with Chairman Arafat?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm never going to tell my friend, the Prime Minister,
what to do on how to handle his business. That's his choice to make.
He's a democratically elected official. And I'll reiterate; I have
been disappointed in Chairman Arafat. I think he's let the Palestinian
people down. I think he's had an opportunity to lead to peace and he
hasn't done so. And that's why it's important for all of us to work
out a way to develop the institutions necessary for there to be a
Palestinian Authority that's got the capacity to keep security, but,
as well as a Palestinian Authority that's got the ability to help
promote hope for the future of her people -- that there's an education
system that works, a health system that's vibrant.
And by the way, there's plenty of nations that are willing to
participate, so long as those -- the framework for a stable part of
the world is in place. And those are the reforms that the Prime
Minister has talked about, and those are the reforms that we must
I will give you one example. The Palestinians need to develop a
constitution, rule of law, transparency. They've got to have a
treasury that is able to battle corruption, so that not only does the
-- do the Israeli people have confidence in the Authority, but so do
the Palestinian people have confidence in the Authority. And those are
the reforms we've discussed.
Q: Mr. President --
PRESIDENT BUSH: We've got the Prime Minister here. This guy can answer
PRIME MINISTER SHARON: I'm happy to wait. (Laughter.)
Q: Mr. Prime Minister, the last time -- (laughter) -- the last time
you met President Bush, you accepted the idea of a Palestinian state
at the end of the peace process. Do you still support the
establishment of a state?
And, Mr. President, do you believe that a state should be a stated
goal of a peace process?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. I haven't changed my position.
PRIME MINISTER SHARON: I think that it's still premature to discuss
this issue. I think what we have to concentrate now is making every
effort that real reform will take place. And we discussed, I would
say, how really to reach these reform, what should be there. And we
discussed some other developments like the original peace conference
and other issues.
Q: -- reforms must take place before you would consider a Palestinian
PRIME MINISTER SHARON: I think that it's, as I said, it's premature
now. I think, first of all, steps should be taken in order to
establish, or to have real reform in the Palestinian Authority.
Q: -- Radio Number One.
PRESIDENT BUSH: How many Radio Number Ones are there? (Laughter.)
Q: Mr. President, I wonder if you could tell us -- you've probably
been studying these ideas of reforms in the Palestinian society. How
long do you think, how long do you estimate it will take the
Palestinians to carry out these reforms? And do you have any reason to
believe, or any information that Mr. Arafat will agree for such
reforms? And will Arafat agree actually to lose his power and give it
to somebody else in the Palestinian leadership?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you know, it's interesting, I think the
operative question is, how soon will you start working on reforms.
That's the -- if I could put a question in your own mouth. The answer
is, as soon as possible. That's what we discussed about -- how quickly
can we begin the reform process. That's also, is what we'll with the
Arab leaders who have got an interest in the area, about how to get
And I think it's going to be -- and the answer as to whether or not
people will accept the reforms, look, our job is to convince the
Saudis, the Jordanians, the Egyptians that these reforms are
absolutely necessary. And when I say people have got responsibilities,
I'm not just saying the Israelis and the Palestinians have
responsibilities. I'm saying these leaders. And these were -- this is
a subject I discussed with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He's
the man who laid out the vision for peace. He's also a man who
understands that by reforming the Palestinians we have a chance to
And so I would hope that all the responsible Palestinian leaders
understand that reform is in their interest. It's in the people's
interest. Listen, I deeply hurt when there is a lack of hope for moms
and dads of anybody -- Palestinian moms and dads -- it bothers me. It
bothers me to think there are some whose children are so hopeless
they're willing to commit suicide.
And so one of the things we've got to work for and one of the things
our nation will work for is reforms coupled with humanitarian help.
Reforms with the chance for there to be economic development, so
people can realize a normal life.
And as to who's going to accept what, we'll find out. But one of the
things that's going to be clear is that the world is rallying toward
these reforms. And that's what our job is to do, is to lead them to
those reforms. It makes a lot of sense. And this is a good first step
toward the path to peace.
Listen, thank you all for coming.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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