|White House Report, January 5: Middle East
Bush administration calls for Palestinian elections to proceed as scheduled
PALESTINIAN ELECTIONS SHOULD GO FORWARD, WHITE HOUSE SAYS
White House press secretary Scott McClellan urged Palestinian leaders to hold parliamentary elections as scheduled January 25, despite regional events including the incapacitation of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon due to a severe stroke.
Speaking to reporters January 5, McClellan said, “We believe that the elections should go forward on schedule, and we've expressed our desire to [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas. This is a schedule that was set by the Palestinians, and we believe it's important to move ahead on schedule.”
McClellan said the desire for peace remains strong among Palestinians and Israelis, and the Bush administration is staying focused on the Israeli leader’s condition and praying for his recovery.
Sharon is “a courageous leader who has taken some bold steps to help advance peace in the Middle East,” he said.
Asked about Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who temporarily has assumed Sharon’s duties, the press secretary said Olmert is “someone who is well known and well respected, and he is someone who we will work with in his acting capacity on issues of mutual concern.”