Bush to Abbas: Do More to Fight Terror

U.S. President George W. Bush told Palestinian Authority Chairman on Thursday that he must do more to fight terrorism.

Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 19:29

At a press conference following the meeting, Bush emphasized the importance of seizing the moment of opportunity presented by the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

For the first time, however, Bush noted that a Palestinian state might not be possible until after he has left office, three years away. Bush set a goal last year for the creation of a Palestinian state before the end of his term in 2008.

Bush noted that the Palestinian Authority would have to reject and fight terrorism in order to "earn the confidence of its neighbors," a clear reference to Israel's skepticism about Abbas' ability to control terrorist factions.

"The way forward must begin by confronting the threat that armed gangs pose to a genuinely democratic Palestine," said Bush.

Abbas said he was doing his best to end the violence that left three young Israelis dead and four others wounded in two terrorists attacks in Israel on Sunday. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist organization affiliated with Abbas' ruling Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the murders.

The PA chairman said he has taken "active steps" to impose the rule of law and public order," but added that Israel needs to "do more" to foster an atmosphere of peace by returning to the Roadmap peace plan promoted by Bush.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had equally critical words on Wednesday for Israel prior to her meeting with Abbas. Rice warned at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Israeli construction between East Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim was in direct contradiction to the Bush administration policy in the Middle East.

Abbas was scheduled to meet with Senate and House leaders later in the day, followed by a final meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney before returning to the Middle East.