By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 9, 2008
In a rare moment of praise for President Bush, Israeli President Shimon Peres explained to reporters that it was not polite to praise a person in his own presence. Then he slipped into Hebrew and said, “Thank God for George Bush.”
President Bush is in Israel on the first stop in his multi-nation Middle East peace mission.
Israel expressed strong gratitude to the United States for its continued support for the peace process. Both nations again expressed an intention to see a new Palistinian nation in the Middle East near Israel.
President Bush arrives in Israel Wednesday for his first presidential
visit there. (Photo by Christopher Furlong, Getty Images.)
When asked why no three party talks were planned — to include the Palistinian leadership, President Peres said there had been a three-way discussion just a month ago during the Annapolis summit.
“I come as an optimistic person and a realistic person – realistic in my understanding that it’s vital for the world to fight terrorists, to confront those who would murder the innocent to achieve political objectives,” Bush said as he began his first presidential visit to Israel.
But the real news from the press conference today was the heartfelt praise for President Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice by the Israelis.
“Your visit is timely and is very important to encourage the process that you and Secretary Rice helped start in Annapolis a few weeks ago and that we, both sides I believe, are very seriously trying to move forward with now in order to realize the vision of a two-state solution,” said Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
|(AP) President Bush, right, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I come with high hopes,” Bush said. “And the role of the United States will be to foster a vision of peace. The role of the Israeli leadership and the Palestinian leadership is going to do the hard work necessary to define a vision.”
President Bush pledged to fully support the peace process.
“Am I nudging them forward? Well, my trip was a pretty significant nudge because yesterday they had a meeting,” he said. And he said he would step in when and if his involvement is needed. “You know me well enough to know I’ll be more than willing to provide it,” Bush said.
When asked about the confrontation at sea Sunday between small boats from Iran and the United States Navy, President Bush reiterated what his National Security Advisor had said in Washington. “Next time, Iran will have to take responsibility for the consequences.”
President Bush said Iran continues to be a “threat to world peace.”
The president said about the incident in the Persian Gulf, “all options are on the table to secure our assets.” He said serious consequences would follow another Iranian provocation. “My advice to them is don’t do it,” he said.