"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
President Bush says the drafting of a constitution in Iraq and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza are indications that democracy is growing.
Speaking to reporters in Donnelly, Idaho, August 23, Bush described the Iraqi efforts to write a constitution as “an amazing event.” He said the Iraqis are in the process of creating a document that “guarantees minority rights, women’s rights, freedom to worship … in a country that only knew dictatorship.”
Bush said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a “courageous decision” in withdrawing Israeli settlers and forces from Gaza.
“In other words, this is step one in the development of a democracy,” Bush said.
He said the next step is the establishment of a working government in Gaza. He noted that U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Ward is helping the Palestinian Authority consolidate its security forces and former World Bank President James Wolfensohn is focusing on rebuilding the economic infrastructure of Gaza.
“It’s a very hopeful period,” Bush said.
Following is the transcript of Bush’s remarks:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
August 23, 2005
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE TRAVEL POOL
8:50 A.M. MDT
Q: Mr. President, Israel has withdrawn from the final settlement. What does the Palestinian leader Abbas need to do next? And are there any specific plans for restarting negotiations based on the road map?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I want to congratulate Prime Minister Sharon for having made a very tough decision. As I said in my remarks yesterday in Salt Lake City, the Prime Minister made a courageous decision to withdraw from the Gaza. We have got Jim Wolfensohn, the former head of the World Bank, on the ground, helping President Abbas develop a government that responds to the will of the folks in Gaza. In other words, this is step one in the development of a democracy.
And so to answer your question, what must take place next is the establishment of a working government in Gaza, a government that responds to the people. President Abbas has made a commitment to fight off the violence, because he understands a democracy can't exist with terrorist groups trying to take the law into their own hands.
Along these lines, we've also got General Ward on the ground, helping the Palestinians consolidate their security forces. It turns out that the post-Arafat regime is one of different factions and different security forces that were really in place to kind of maintain his power, but not necessarily to protect the overall security of the Palestinian people. It's in the interest to consolidate the security forces, so that there is a -- the government has got a vehicle and a group of folks by which to help enforce order.
You asked about the road map. Of course you want to get back to the road map. But I understand that in order for this process to go forward there must be confidence -- confidence that the Palestinian people will have in their own government to perform, confidence with the Israelis that they'll see a peaceful state emerging. And therefore it's very important for the world to stay focused on Gaza, and helping Gaza -- helping the Gaza economy get going, helping rebuild the settlements for Gaza -- for the people of Gaza.
This is a very hopeful period. Again, I applaud Prime Minister Sharon for making a decision that has really changed the dynamics on the ground, and has really provided hope for the Palestinian people. My vision, my hope is that one day we'll see two states -- two democratic states living side by side in peace.