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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 05:41 GMT 06:41 UK
Palestinian anger at Bush speech
Palestinians watch the Bush speech
Palestinians for the most part have reacted negatively
Palestinians and Israeli leaders have expressed strongly differing views on US President George W Bush's long-awaited speech on the Middle East crisis.

When the Palestinians have new leaders, institutions and security arrangements, the US will support the creation of a Palestinian state

George W Bush
Mr Bush urged the Palestinian people to replace Yasser Arafat, who has led them for decades, with a leader "not compromised by terror".

He did not mention Mr Arafat by name, but correspondents say his message was brutally clear.

Most Palestinian leaders were outraged by the speech, although support came from an unexpected corner.

President Bush
Bush says a new leader is a necessity
Mr Arafat described the speech as "a serious effort to push the peace process forward".

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman, Raanan Gissin, welcomed the call for a new Palestinian leader.

Just hours after the speech, Israeli tanks swept into the West Bank city of Hebron sparking clashes with Palestinian gunmen.

Israeli offensive

Palestinian security officials reported that two Palestinians had been killed during exchanges of fire in the city.

Hebron is the seventh West Bank town the Israeli army has moved into as part of an offensive it says is aimed at curbing suicide bombings.

Palestinian leaders don't drop from parachutes from Washington or anywhere else. Palestinian leaders are chosen by the Palestinian people

Saeb Erekat, Palestinian minister
During his speech, Mr Bush said peace required a "new and different Palestinian leadership" which could lead the Palestinians to their own state.

"If Palestinians embrace democracy, confront corruption, and firmly reject terror, they can count on America's support for creation of a provisional state of Palestine," he said.

But Mr Bush said US support for provisional Palestinian statehood would only come after the Palestinians elected new leaders, built new institutions and new security arrangements to protect Israel from terrorist attacks.

Opposing views

The future borders of the Palestinian entity and "certain aspects of its sovereignty" would be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

Despite Mr Arafat's statement supporting Mr Bush's speech, other Palestinian leaders were far from happy.

Yasser Arafat
Arafat was not mentioned by name
Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said the call for a new leadership was "not acceptable", while Palestinian Cabinet Secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman said that Mr Bush had "mixed up" the concepts of terrorism and resistance to Israeli occupation.

Mr Erekat insisted that Mr Arafat was the Palestinians' "directly elected leader in free and fair elections... and President Bush must respect the choice of the Palestinian people".

Upsurge in violence

"When they chose Arafat, they chose a strategy of terror, and they chose to continue sending suicide and homicide bombers to Israel," Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister said.

West Bank and Gaza map
Mr Bush's announcement comes a week after two devastating Palestinian suicide attacks on Israel, which delayed the speech.

It also comes against the backdrop of major Israeli incursions into Palestinian-controlled land.

Mr Bush made it clear that he believed the Palestinian leader and his administration to be entirely responsible for the current bloodshed.

Officials in Washington said that, if Mr Bush's conditions were met, a provisional Palestinian state could be established in 18 months and then made permanent in about three years as part of a final Middle East settlement.

The BBC's Steve Kingstone
"Bush is waiting for a sign of calm"
Dore Gold, Israeli government spokesman
"Peace and terrorism cannot co-exist"
Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian Legislative Council
"This is an almost impossible precondition"

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25 Jun 02 | Middle East
24 Jun 02 | Middle East
23 Jun 02 | Middle East
21 Jun 02 | Middle East
20 Jun 02 | Middle East
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