President Bush to visit the Middle East for continued Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations
VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER/PRODUCER: Israeli and Palestinian leaders met on Tuesday, on the eve of US President George W. Bush’s arrival in the region, to try to bring some sort of progress from talks that have barely advanced since a US-sponsored Mideast peace conference. Bush said in an interview with Israeli television on Sunday that he does not predict a full Israeli-Palestinian peace accord before he leaves office in January 2009.
January 6, 2008
GEORGE W. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: I’m not going to try to force the issue because of my own timetable. On the other hand, I do believe Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas want to see this done, and therefore I’m optimistic it will get done by 2008.
The three-day visit, which begins on Wednesday, has sparked protest from both sides.
Gaza City, Gaza Strip
January 7, 2008
TAHER NUNU, HAMAS SPOKESMAN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Bush, as he said, is coming to discuss a regional security plan. Such a plan aims at widening the American and Israeli hegemony in the region and reinforce the Israeli security in the Middle East, and not in the interest of the Palestinian and Arab people.
According to AFP, the Palestinians have repeatedly said Israel must halt settlement activity on occupied land if the peace talks are to succeed.
Ramallah, West Bank
January 8, 2008
SAEB EREKAT, PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: Either the Israelis will pursue the track of settlements, and incursions, and military escalations, and roadblocks or the track of peace and negotiations, because dictations and negotiations don’t go together, settlements and negotiations don’t go together, and the spree of the killing fields in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank just cannot continue.
Bethlehem, West Bank
January 6, 2008
MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We want him to ask the Israelis to stop building the settlements in order to give the peace process a push and to ensure the end of the occupation which began in the year 1967, and that there will be a Palestinian and an Israeli state and that Jerusalem will be a capital for two states, the eastern part for the Palestinians and the western part for the Israelis.
Violence has erupted since last week in the lead-up to the Bush visit. Two rockets fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel before dawn, causing no injuries. And as The Guardian reports, the rocket attack follows several days of clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israeli troops entered central Gaza after militants fired a rocket last Thursday into southern Israel. They also conducted a four-day raid in the West Bank town of Nablus, uncovering a weapons laboratory and arresting twenty wanted men.
January 7, 2008
OLMERT: I want to remind you that in the Gaza strip there has been a real war for several months and the damage to the terrorist organizations – whether Islamic Jihad or Hamas – has been serious. There is no doubt we still have to work to create a major reduction in the launching of rockets.
ABBAS: This action is totally unjustified. Our security forces and the interior ministry are doing their job in Nablus and in other Palestinian cities. There is nothing to justify this other than what the Israeli authorities say, that we are not doing our duty, in order to justify, let us be clear, the building of settlements.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.