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A Meeting with President Bush

Avi Shaked Post, 15.05.08

Yesterday, I had a unique experience.  I joined with other Israeli business leaders to meet and welcome President George W. Bush to Israel.  And, it was a memorable welcome with sustained applause from the group of about 100 individuals.
The room was filled with a sense of optimism and hope.  We are so close.  We must seize the opportunities offered by President Bush's visit.  The world is watching and the world is with us.
President Bush's words offered encouragement.  This excerpt from an interview with the Jerusalem Post a short time before our meeting captures the sense of the message he shared with us:
I will come not as somebody who demands, but as someone who encourages. The United States cannot impose peace. Lasting peace happens when people understand, in this case, that the definition of the [Palestinian] state is the first step toward peace. And it's hard work. So what I'll be doing is encouraging people to see if they can't reach agreement on what the borders of a state will look like, for example. Because once you can define the borders of the state then you can deal with the settlement issue in much more concrete terms.
I'm not running for the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm just trying to be a guy to use the influence of the United States to move the process along. All I've tried to do is wade in and add some legitimacy to the two-state solution. I've been the first president to articulate it. To me it's the only solution.
I just don't see how the Middle East evolves without a Palestinian state that's free and democratic. I don't see how the Middle East can involve without a democratic Lebanon, or without an Iraq that succeeds. And, by the way, Iraq is succeeding.