Bush previews Sharon visit
Says he'll raise objections to Israeli settlements
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (CNN) -- President Bush plans to renew his objections to Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visits his ranch Crawford, Texas, ranch Monday.
"I've raised the issue of settlement expansions publicly," Bush told reporters Friday aboard Air Force One en route to Texas from the pope's funeral in Vatican City.
"What I say publicly, I say privately. And that is, the road map has clear obligations on settlements, and that we expect the prime minister to adhere to those road map obligations. And the road map has got obligations for the Palestinians.
"We have a great opportunity -- 'we,' the world has a great opportunity to help a democracy grow -- begin and grow, starting in the Gaza."
Bush said that its success hinges on more than security.
"We need to have institution-building, and there needs to be an international effort that encourages and fosters economic vitality so that a government which does emerge in Gaza will be able to better speak to the hopes of those who live in the Gaza."
Any success in Gaza will make success in the West Bank easier, Bush said.
Last month's announcement by Israel that it plans to build 3,500 residential housing units in Maaleh Adumim, its largest settlement in the West Bank, has infuriated Palestinians, who claim all of the West Bank as part of a future state.
The settlement activity prompted Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice to call for a "full stop" last month, saying it could jeopardize the fragile Middle East peace process.
Under the "road map" sponsored by the so-called Mideast Quartet of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, Israel must dismantle West Bank outposts built after Sharon took office in March 2001.
The plan also calls for an end to Israeli-Palestinian violence and for the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
Israel also must remove 21 Jewish settlements from Gaza and stop further construction there and in the West Bank.
The Maaleh Adumim plans have been approved by different Israeli governments over the past five years.