George Bush today predicted that a Middle East peace treaty would be completed by the time he leaves office in 2009.
He said he was convinced that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders understood “the importance of democratic states living side by side” in peace.
“I am confident that with proper help, the state of Palestine will emerge,” Mr Bush said.
“I am confident that the status quo is unacceptable, Mr President,” he told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas during a visit to the region. “And we want to help you.”
Mr Abbas called on Israel to fulfil its commitments to a peace plan, and said he hoped “this will be the year for the creation of peace”.
Even though it is Mr Bush’s first trip to the Palestinian West Bank, it generated little excitement among Palestinians, who are largely sceptical of his promises to try to move along Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Mr Bush is on a three-day visit to Israel and the West Bank to show support for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks following seven years of violence.
He said he expects both Israelis and Palestinians to “honour their obligations under the roadmap” peace plan, and that Israelis should help the Palestinians modernise their security forces.
The road map calls on Israel to halt settlement activity while requiring the Palestinians to dismantle militant groups.