Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has concluded a historic visit to the White House, the first by a Palestinian leader since the Middle East peace process broke down nearly five years ago.
Abbas called on Washington to press Israel to start heeding the so-called road map to peace. US President George W Bush pledged millions of dollars in aid for the Palestinian Authority and said it had Washington’s backing for the creation of an independent state: He said: “The Palestinians voted against violence and for sovereignty because only the defeat of violence will lead to sovereignty. Mr President, the United States and the international community applaud your rejection of terrorism.” Abbas also reiterated the need for Israel to resume withdrawing its troops from the West Bank, and denounced the continued building of the West Bank Wall. He said time was running out: “Time is becoming our greatest enemy. We should end this conflict before it’s too late.” Following a recent spate of attacks, Israel has refused to resume talks until Abbas manages to subdue Palestinian factions, one of the preconditions for moving ahead with the “road map”.