Bush Meets Egyptian, Asks Israel Moderation : Bush Urges Israel: End Occupation, Talk Peace
President Bush called today for a “properly structured” Middle East peace conference and an eventual end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
In apparent agreement with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who met with him for more than an hour, Bush also supported “achievement of Palestinian political rights.”
The President’s statement, in the White House Rose Garden, could exert pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, scheduled to meet with Bush on Thursday.
Shamir will propose holding elections among the Palestinians in the territories to find leaders who would negotiate their future with Israel.
Mubarak told Bush, however, that elections held under Israeli supervision would be unacceptable to the Palestinians, a senior U.S. official said afterward.
Evidently Bush did not reject the idea out of hand. The official said the President raised questions about various forms of supervision.
“A properly structured international conference could play a useful role at an appropriate time,” Bush said in endorsing one of Mubarak’s principal proposals.
Bush did not define what he meant by a “properly structured” peace conference, but the U.S. official said the President emphasized to Mubarak that the “key factor” should be direct negotiations between Israel and the Arabs.
The Egyptian leader said the talks the Bush Administration is having with the Palestine Liberation Organization constitute one of the “breakthroughs” in the region.
“In short,” Mubarak said in urging Bush to prod the Israelis, “the situation is right for an active effort more than ever before.”