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Bush: 'Hamas must be dismantled'

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President Bush called on the nations of the European Union to cut off funding and support of Hamas and other militant Mideast groups.

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PALESTINIAN GROUPS

Hamas, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have claimed responsibility for terror attacks against Israeli civilians and for attacks against the Israeli military. The United States has designated all three as terrorist organizations.

Hamas: A Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist group. Its military wing is the Izzedine al Qassam.

Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades: A military offshoot of Fatah, the mainstream faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad: A militant group dedicated to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Calling it a terrorist organization bent on disrupting the peace process, President Bush on Wednesday said Hamas and other militant Mideast groups must be dismantled before peace can be achieved.

"In order for there to be peace, Hamas must be dismantled," Bush said at a joint news conference with the European Union leadership.

Bush called on the nations of the European Union to cut off funding and support of Hamas and other militant Mideast groups to enhance the prospects of peace in the region. (European Union summit)

"Progress toward this goal will only be possible if all sides do all in their power to defeat the determined enemies of peace, such as Hamas and other terrorist groups," Bush said.

"Nearly every hopeful moment in the region, nearly every sign of progress toward peace, is followed by more murders in the guise of martyrdom, as those who oppose peace do all they can to destroy the hopes and aspirations of those who desire to live in peace."

Bush made his comments after Palestinian officials said they reached a cease-fire agreement with Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, to suspend attacks against Israelis for three months. (Full story)

Asked about the reports of the cease-fire, Bush said, "I'll believe it when I see it, knowing the history of the terrorists in the Middle East.

"It's one thing to make a verbal agreement, but in order for there to be peace in the Middle East, we must see organizations such as Hamas dismantled. And then we'll have peace, then we'll have a chance for peace," he said.

"The true tests for Hamas and terrorist organizations is the complete dismantlement of their terrorist networks, their capacity to blow up the peace process."

The Bush administration has proposed a Mideast "road map" that would create a Palestinian state by the end of 2005. The road map calls on both Israelis and Palestinians to take steps in implementing the process, including the cracking down on terrorists by Palestinians and the dismantling of some settlements in the West Bank and Gaza by Israel.

Bush met this month with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during a trilateral summit in Jordan. Abbas and Sharon pledged their commitment to the road map.

"Europe and America will stand together for a Middle East that will have a just and comprehensive peace," Bush said Wednesday. "We will work together to achieve the two-state solution endorsed by the parties earlier this month at the Red Sea summit."


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