Thursday, January 10, 2008


Bush urges end to Israeli 'occupation'

US President George W Bush is urging an end to "the occupation" of the West Bank and wants a treaty to be signed within a year to create a Palestinian state.

The United States rarely uses the politically charged word "occupation" to describe Israel's hold on lands captured in a 1967 war. It is a term Palestinians seeking a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip employ frequently to describe their plight.

"The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue. The Palestinian people deserve it," Bush said in a statement he read to reporters in a Jerusalem hotel.

Bush's language, after he travelled to the West Bank city of Ramallah past Israeli checkpoints and settlements, could cause political pain to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whose right-wing coalition partners usually bridle at such remarks.

"There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967," Bush said. He had earlier met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and visited Bethlehem, also in the West Bank.

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