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Bush outlines Mideast vision

Bush makes a point during his speech at the Banqueting House.
Bush makes a point during his speech at the Banqueting House.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has urged European leaders not to back corrupt Palestinian leaders and called for Israel not to let its security barrier "prejudice" final negotiations.

Speaking to an audience of academics and dignitaries on his state visit to Britain, Bush outlined his vision of a democratic Palestinian state, safety for Israelis and peaceful co-existence for both peoples.

"We seek a viable, independent state for the Palestinian people, who have been betrayed by others for too long," the president said on Wednesday. "We seek security and recognition for the state of Israel, which has lived in the shadow of random death for too long."

He said these "worthy goals" could lead to a larger peace in the Middle East.

"Achieving peace in the Holy Land is not just a matter of the shape of a border. As we work on the details of peace, we must look to the heart of the matter, which is the need for a viable Palestinian democracy."

He said there would not be progress so long as corrupt, autocratic Palestinian rulers with ties to terrorists were in charge, saying "old elites" had put their interests above the citizens.

The Bush administration has long been critical of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, blaming him for instability in the region. He was not mentioned by name in the speech.

"The long-suffering Palestinian people deserve better. They deserve true leaders, capable of creating and governing a Palestinian state," Bush said.

He said leaders of "a new Palestine" should use "peaceful means" in their governance and "create the reformed institutions of a stable democracy."

The president made pointed remarks about Israeli policy, saying the Jewish state "should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people and not prejudice final negotiations with the placements of walls and fences."

On the other hand, he said, Arab nations "should end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism, and establish normal relations with Israel."

He also urged all leaders to "strongly oppose anti-Semitism, which poisons public debates over the future of the Middle East."

Producer Sausan Ghosheh in Ramallah contributed to this report


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