Bush: Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaida are all the same
U.S. President George Bush said during a closed working meeting between the American and Israeli teams that there is no difference between Hamas, Hezbollah and Al-Qaida.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her U.S. counterpart Condoleezza Rice also took part in the meeting, held at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, which focused on the latest developments in Syria, Lebanon, Iran and the Gaza Strip.
Bush said that Bashar Assad will have to decide where he is headed but expressed doubt that the Syrian president will decide to break with Iran. He warned that progress will be impossible unless the Syrians change tack.
In reference to Lebanon, President Shimon Peres said that the meaning of a Hezbollah takeover of that country would be an Iranian Lebanon as Israel's neighbor, which Israel would not be able to accept.
Prior to the closed meeting, Peres and Bush addressed each other on camera. Peres spoke about the efforts of "very extremist groups" to counter moderate regimes in the Middle East, singling out Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
"Hamas is delaying the establishment of a Palestinian state," Peres told Bush. "I think that you and the secretary of state have invested so much effort in helping the Palestinians to correct the historic mistake of 1947, because if they had accepted the Arab state we would not have so many problems, but we can fix the past. Today the real obstacle, when I consider everything else before creation of the ... declaration of a Palestinian state, is Hamas."
Bush vowed continued American support for Israel: "The objective of the United States must be, on the one hand, to support our strongest ally and friend in the Middle East, against the forces of terror you've just described, while at the same time to talk about a hopeful future."
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