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Saturday, 13 October, 2001, 03:19 GMT 04:19 UK
Bush urged to act on 'Palestinian state'
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat chairs cabinet meeting, 12 October
Arafat has moved to suppress anti-US feeling
Palestinian leaders have called on US President George W Bush to match his words on the creation of a Palestinian state with action.

Mr Bush said earlier that there should be a Palestinian state as long as the Palestinians recognised Israel's right to exist.


We don't need photo opportunities or declarations that are not implemented

Yasser Abed Rabbo, Palestinian information minister

He also applauded the efforts of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat "to control the radical elements within the Palestinian Authority".

Emphasising that the Middle East remained one of the most important parts of US foreign policy, Mr Bush said he looked forward to a renewal of negotiations towards a political solution in the region.

But the Israeli Cabinet Minister, Danny Naveh, said there was no place for new political plans under the current circumstances - a clear reference to the 11 September terror attacks on America.

Launch new window : CLICKABLE MAP
Middle East states: Where they stand

Mr Bush spoke of the creation of a separate Palestinian state, while seeking to reassure Israel that the United States remained its best friend.

"I believe there ought to be a Palestinian state... so long as the Palestinian state recognises the right of Israel to exist and will treat Israel with respect and will be peaceful on her borders," Mr Bush said.

But a senior Palestinian official, Yasser Abed Rabbo, took up Mr Bush's words and challenged him to act on them.

Palestinian militants with internet screens
Israel wants militant Palestinian groups included in the war on terrorism

"We don't need photo opportunities or declarations that are not implemented," he said.

The Israeli press is full of speculation that a planned US initiative - postponed because of the attacks against America on 11 September - is soon to be revived.

BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says if the Bush administration does set out some broad framework for an Israel-Palestinian peace settlement, it will not be anything like as ambitious as the plan outlined by former President Bill Clinton at the end of last year.

The Bush administration has never disguised its feeling that Mr Clinton got far too involved in the Middle East - and ended up with nothing to show for it.

'Appeasement'

The need to reassure Israel was underlined by last week's remarks from Mr Sharon warning that Israel would not be another Czechoslovakia - a reference to the way Western Europe allowed Germany to invade Czechoslovakia in the run-up to World War II.

The White House described Mr Sharon's remarks as "unacceptable".

Since then both sides have been seeking to lower the temperature.

While still anxious about Washington's intentions, Israelis are pleased that the list of America's 22 most wanted terrorist suspects issued by Mr Bush on Wednesday contained the names of three members of the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

Ever since 11 September, Israel has been urging Mr Bush to widen his war against terrorism to include Islamic groups who have launched attacks against Israel.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Paul Anderson in Jerusalem
reports on the latest violence in the Middle East ahead of Yasser Arafat's talks with Tony Blair on Monday
Gideon Meir of the Israeli Foreign Ministry
"Israel is fully supportive of the Mitchell report and to resume the talks between us and the Palestinians"
See also:

11 Oct 01 | Middle East
US says Israel still 'valued friend'
06 Oct 01 | Middle East
Sharon moves to appease US
06 Oct 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Sharon's appeasement warning
04 Oct 01 | Middle East
Don't sacrifice Israel, warns Sharon
02 Oct 01 | Middle East
Bush 'endorses' Palestinian state
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