Monday, August 29, 2005

Bush Calls On Abbas To Show "Political Courage"


With thanks to Charles at Little Green Footballs:


EL MIRAGE, Arizona (Reuters) - President Bush stepped up pressure on the Palestinians one day after a suicide bomb attack, urging President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday to show the “political courage” to rein in militants.

Bush called Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza the first step toward creating a democracy for the Palestinians. “It took political courage to make that decision,” Bush said of the withdrawal of Jewish settlers.

“And now it’s going to take political courage by the Palestinians and ... Abbas to step up, reject violence, reject terrorism and build a democracy,” he added during a speech in El Mirage, Arizona.

Bush’s comments marked an escalation in U.S. pressure on Abbas to begin taking action against militants in response to Israel’s withdrawal.

The call for action appeared to run counter to assertions by Palestinian officials in Washington that the White House understood that Abbas and his security forces would need more time to prepare for any major push to disarm the militants.

A senior Bush administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues, said the White House believes that Abbas already has the means to restrain the groups responsible for attacks on Israel.

“We want him to be a responsible leader. He needs to rein in the groups that want to harm the ‘road map’ process,” the official said, referring to the U.S.-backed peace process that envisions creating a viable Palestinian state.