Fri, Nov 05, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Arafat urges new Mideast peace drive


Palestinian President Yasser Arafat urged US President George W. Bush to re-engage in the Mideast peace process in his second term, and a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Min-ister Ariel Sharon called Bush's re-election a victory for a "relentless fight against terrorism."

Arafat, undergoing medical tests in Paris for an unidentified ailment, welcomed Bush's re-election in a statement issued by a senior aide, Mohammed Rashid, at his headquarters in Ramallah.

"President Bush has shown a clear will to solve the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution," Arafat said, referring to plan to create a Palestinian state.

Arafat said he hoped Bush "will be more engaged in solving this conflict and that the US administration would be engaged at the highest levels to achieve this goal."

Bush's strong support for Sharon's policies during his first term endeared him to the Israeli government, but created friction with Palestinian officials.

The Palestinians charged him with unfairly favoring Israel, and resented his decision to boycott Arafat for allegedly supporting militant activities.

Bush's win is a victory "to the American people who decided to choose democracy, hope and a relentless fight against terrorism," Sharon's top adviser Raanan Gissin said.

"It's an even bigger victory for the people of the Middle East, where there will be another four years of a president determined to bring the people of this forsaken region a ray of hope, freedom and ... democracy," he said.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said a decision by Bush to step up efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians would serve America's own interests in the region.

"We hope that the American administration will be more engaged in solving the Arab-Israeli conflict and specifically the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which represents the center of tension and instability in the area," he said. "We will cooperate with the American administration to achieve this goal."

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