George W. Bush told leaders of the
European Union in Brussels, Belgium, that peace in the Middle East and
combating anti-Semitism wherever it may arise must be common priorities both for them and the United
"After many false starts, and dashed hopes, and stolen lives, a settlement of the conflict between
Israelis and Palestinians is now within reach," Bush said in a speech at Concert Noble. "America and Europe have made a moral commitment: We will not stand by as another generation in the Holy Land grows up in an atmosphere of violence and hopelessness. America and Europe also share a strategic interest: By helping to build a lasting peace, we will remove an unsettled grievance that is used to stir hatred and violence across the Middle East.
"Our efforts are guided by a clear vision: We're determined to see two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The Palestinian people deserve a government that is representative, honest and peaceful. The people of Israel need an end to terror and a reliable, steadfast partner for peace. And the world must not rest until there is a just and lasting resolution of this conflict."
The American president said to accomplish this goal, "all the parties have responsibilities to meet." For example, "Arab states must end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism, stop their support for extremist education, and establish normal relations with Israel. Palestinian leaders must confront and dismantle terrorist groups, fight corruption, encourage free enterprise, and rest true authority with the people. Only a democracy can serve the hopes of Palestinians, and make Israel secure, and raise the flag of a free Palestine.
"A successful Palestinian democracy should be Israel's top goal as well. So Israel must freeze settlement activity, help Palestinians build a thriving economy, and ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable, with contiguous territory on the West Bank. A state of scattered territories will not work. As Palestinian leaders assume responsibility for
Gaza and increasingly larger territory, we will help them build the economic and political and security institutions needed to govern effectively."
Bush urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to use the upcoming London Conference "to put forward a strategy of reform, which can and will gain financial support from the international community
— including financial support. I hope he will seize the moment."
"We seek peace between Israel and Palestine for its own sake," Bush said. Additional benefits may be the quieting effect and good example such a peace might have on the broader Middle East, where "lasting, successful reform...will not be imposed from the outside; it must be chosen from within," Bush said. "Governments must choose to fight corruption, abandon old habits of control, protect the rights of conscience and the rights of minorities. Governments must invest in the health and education of their people, and take responsibility for solving problems instead of simply blaming others. Citizens must choose to hold their governments accountable...
"Europe and America should not expect or demand that reforms come all at once
— that didn't happen in our own histories," the President said. "My country took many years to include minorities and women in the full promise of America
— and that struggle hasn't ended. Yet, while our expectations must be realistic, our ideals must be firm and they must be clear. We must expect higher standards from our friends and partners in the Middle East. The government of
Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the role of its people in determining their future. And the great and proud nation of
Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East.
"Our shared commitment to democratic progress is being tested in Lebanon
— a once-thriving country that now suffers under the influence of an oppressive neighbor. Just as the
Syrian regime must take stronger action to stop those who support violence and subversion in
Iraq, and must end its support for terrorist groups seeking to destroy the hope of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Syria must also end its occupation of Lebanon."
Bush said that "the Lebanese people have the right to be free, and the United States and Europe share an interest in a democratic, independent Lebanon." He noted that "my nation and
France worked to pass Security Council Resolution 1559, which demands that Lebanon's sovereignty be respected, that foreign troops and agents be withdrawn, and that free elections be conducted without foreign interference. In the last several months, the world has seen men and women voting in historic elections, from Kabul to Ramallah to Baghdad
— and without Syrian interference, Lebanon's parliamentary elections in the spring can be another milestone of liberty."
Turning to Iraq—the subject of greatest differences between the United States and European
nations—Bush said, "together, we must make clear to the Iraqi people that the world is also with them
— because they have certainly shown their character to the world. An Iraqi man who lost a leg in a car bombing last year made sure he was there to vote on January the 30th. He said,
'I would have crawled here if I had to. I don't want terrorists to kill other Iraqis like they tried to kill me. Today I am voting for
peace.' Every vote cast in Iraq was an act of defiance against terror, and the Iraqi people have earned our respect.
"Some European nations joined the fight to liberate Iraq, while others did not. Yet all of us recognize courage when we see it
— and we saw it in the Iraqi people. And all nations now have an interest in the success of a free and democratic Iraq, which will fight terror, which will be a beacon of freedom, and which will be a source of true stability in the region. In the coming months, Iraq's newly elected assembly will carry out the important work of establishing a government, providing security, enhancing basic services, and writing a democratic constitution. Now is the time for established democracies to give tangible political, economic and security assistance to the world's newest
Bush next took up the issue of Iran, where "the free world shares a common goal: For the sake of peace, the Iranian regime must end its support for terrorism, and must not develop nuclear weapons."
"In safeguarding the security of free nations, no option can be taken permanently off the table," said Bush, in a reference to the possibility of using military force. "Iran, however, is different from Iraq. We're in the early stages of diplomacy. The United States is a member of the IAEA Board of Governors, which has taken the lead on this issue. We're working closely with Britain, France and
Germany as they oppose Iran's nuclear ambitions, and as they insist that Tehran comply with international law. The results of this approach now depend largely on Iran. We also look for Iran to finally deliver on promised reform. The time has arrived for the Iranian regime to listen to the Iranian people, and respect their rights, and join in the movement toward liberty that is taking place all around them."
The U.S. President told the Europeans that "as we seek freedom in other nations, we must also work to renew the values that make freedom possible. As I said in my Inaugural Address, we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time. We must reject anti-Semitism from any source, and we must condemn violence such as we have witnessed in the
Netherlands. All our nations must work to integrate minorities into the mainstream of society, and to teach the value of tolerance to each new generation."
On the issue of international terrorism, Bush declared that "our alliance is also determined to defend our security
— because we refuse to live in a world dominated by fear. Terrorist movements seek to intimidate free peoples and reverse the course of history by committing dramatic acts of murder.
"We will not be intimidated, and the terrorists will not stop the march of freedom," Bush said. "I thank the nations of Europe for your strong cooperation in the war on terror. Together, we have disrupted terrorist financing, strengthened intelligence sharing, enhanced our law enforcement cooperation, and improved the security of international commerce and travel.
"We're pursuing terrorists wherever they hide. German authorities recently arrested two terrorists plotting to attack American interests in Iraq. Both will be prosecuted under new German laws, enacted after the September the 11th.
"Just last week," Bush added, "the United Nations added Muhsin al-Fadhli to its al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee list. This man is a known al Qaeda operative and Zarqawi associate, provided support to the terrorists who conducted the 2002 bombing of a French oil tanker. Working together, America, France and other nations will bring him to justice. For the sake of the security of our people, for the sake of peace, we will be relentless in chasing down the ideologues of hate."