Mohammed Mar’i
Arab News
March 24, 2008 - 5:55pm§ion=0&article=108171&d=24&m=3&y=2008

US Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday that a Mideast peace agreement will require “painful concessions” by Israelis and Palestinians who must work together to defeat those “committed to violence.”

After meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Cheney stressed the US commitment to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, saying it was “long overdue.”

While emphasizing that “painful concessions” were needed from all sides, Cheney added: “It also will require a determination to beat those who are committed to violence and who refuse to accept the basic right of the other side to exist.”

“Terror and violence do not merely kill innocent civilians, they also kill the legitimate hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people,” Cheney said.

In their meeting, Abbas asked Cheney to help stop Israeli settlement expansion and military operations targeting militants, said Saeb Erekat, an Abbas aide.

Speaking at the news conference, Abbas thanked Cheney for US support. But he also lashed out at Israel’s settlements and checkpoints, and called for an end to Israeli military operations.

“Peace and security can’t be achieved through settlement expansion and building barriers,” he said. To reach peace, Abbas said, “What is required is will, courage and strong support from the international community, especially the US.”

In his remarks, Cheney said, “A negotiated end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — one that addresses the legitimate national claims of both people — will have limitless value.

Years of mistrust ad violence have achieved nothing, and the extremists who have stood in the way of a settlement have only caused further grief and suffering to the Palestinian and Israeli people.”

“No one,” he said, “deserves to go through life in a climate of fear of deprivation. ... That should not be and must not be the direction of events in this region,” while adding, “The future belongs to the advocates of peace and reconciliation.”

Cheney also told Israeli President Shimon Peres, “We are obviously dedicated to doing all we can as an administration to try to move the peace process forward, and obviously be actively involved in dealing with the threats that we see emerging in the region — not only threats to Israel, but threats to the United States as well.”

Cheney arrived in Israel on Saturday in an effort to bolster the recently relaunched peace talks. Peres said negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians must be focused on economic development.

However, Cheney vowed the US would never pressure Israel to take steps that threaten its security. “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is enduring and unshakable, as is Israel’s right to protect itself always against terrorism, rocket attacks and other attacks from forces dedicated to Israel’s destruction,” Cheney said ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

A spokesman for Hamas movement in Gaza yesterday slammed the statements of Cheney saying it is biased.

Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement, “Cheney’s statements certify that the American administration is a partner with the Israeli occupation in its crimes committed against our Palestinian people.”


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