Bush's Letter to Sharon on Israeli Withdrawal
WASHINGTON, April 14- Text of letter sent by US President George W. Bush to
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon following a meeting at the White House on
an Israeli plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. The text of the April 14 dated
letter was released by the White House.
His Excellency Ariel Sharon Prime Minister of Israel Dear Mr Prime Minister:
Thank you for your letter setting out your disengagement plan.
The United States remains hopeful and determined to find a way forward toward
a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. I remain committed to my June
24, 2002 vision of two states living side by side in peace and security as the
key to peace, and to the road map as the route to get there.
We welcome the disengagement plan you have prepared, under which Israel would
withdraw certain military installations and all settlements from Gaza, and withdraw
certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank.
These steps described in the plan will mark real progress toward realizing
my June 24, 2002 vision, and make a real contribution towards peace. We also
understand that, in this context, Israel believes it is important to bring new
opportunities to the Negev and the Galilee. We are hopeful that steps pursuant
to this plan, consistent with my vision, will remind all states and parties
of their own obligations under the road map.
The United States appreciates the risks such an undertaking represents. I therefore
want to reassure you on several points.
First, the United States remains committed to my vision and to its implementation
as described in the road map. The United States will do its utmost to prevent
any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan.
Under the road map, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed
activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official
Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian
leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted,
and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities
and infrastructure. Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and fundamental
political reform that includes a strong parliamentary democracy and an empowered
Second, there will be no security for Israelis or Palestinians until they and
all states, in the region and beyond, join together to fight terrorism and dismantle
The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security,
including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel's
capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible
combination of threats.
Third, Israel will retain its right to defend itself against terrorism, including
to take actions against terrorist organizations. The United States will lead
efforts, working together with Jordan, Egypt, and others in the international
community, to build the capacity and will of Palestinian institutions to fight
terrorism, dismantle terrorist organizations, and prevent the areas from which
Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat that would have to be addressed by
any other means. The United States understands that after Israel withdraws from
Gaza and/or parts of the West Bank, and pending agreements on other arrangements,
existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters, and
land passages of the West Bank and Gaza will continue. The United States is
strongly committed to Israel's security and well-being as a Jewish state.
It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution
to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will
need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling
of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.
As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized
borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance
with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338.
In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major
Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of
final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice
lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have
reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status
agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that
reflect these realities.
I know that, as you state in your letter, you are aware that certain responsibilities
face the state of Israel. Among these, your government has stated that the barrier
being erected by Israel should be a security rather than political barrier,
should be temporary rather than permanent, and therefore not prejudice any final
status issues including final borders, and its route should take into account,
consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist
As you know, the United States supports the establishment of a Palestinian
state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent, so that the Palestinian
people can build their own future in accordance with my vision set forth in
June 2002 and with the path set forth in the road map. The United States will
join with others in the international community to foster the development of
democratic political institutions and new leadership committed to those institutions,
the reconstruction of civic institutions, the growth of a free and prosperous
economy, and the building of capable security institutions dedicated to maintaining
law and order and dismantling terrorist organizations.
A peace settlement negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians would be a
great boon not only to those peoples but to the peoples of the entire region.
Accordingly, the United States believes that all states in the region have special
responsibilities: to support the building of the institutions of a Palestinian
state; to fight terrorism, and cut off all forms of assistance to individuals
and groups engaged in terrorism; and to begin now to move toward more normal
relations with the state of Israel. These actions would be true contributions
to building peace in the region.
Mr Prime Minister, you have described a bold and historic initiative that can
make an important contribution to peace. I commend your efforts and your courageous
decision which I support. As a close friend and ally, the United States intends
to work closely with you to help make it a success.
George W. Bush