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It is believed to be the first time he has publicly called on the Jewish State to give up land.
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Speaking after meetings with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas today and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres yesterday, Bush said the Palestinians deserve more than a “Swiss cheese” state.
He called for “an end to the occupation that began in 1967” and said both sides must make “painful concessions.”
Bush described disputes over Jerusalem as a ‘tough religious issue’,” but added, “It is vital that each side understands that satisfying the other’s fundamental objectives is key to a successful agreement.
“”Security for Israel and viability for the Palestinian state are in the mutual interests of both parties.”
Earlier in the day, Bush, on his first visit to the region as President, was driven straight through checkpoints from Jerusalem to Ramallah after fog had grounded his helicopter. Describing the experience, which saw his entourage pass Israel’s security fence, he said: “”I’m not so sure that’s what happens to the average person I can understand why Palestinians would be frustrated driving through checkpoints, but immediately added he understand that they were needed to stop terrorists.Bush: 'End Israeli occupation' by Marc Shoffman