Bush: "Those who support and harbor terrorists are equally guilty of murder."
By NATHAN GUTTMAN, HERB KEINON
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office reacted with satisfaction to a Thursday speech by US President George W. Bush denouncing Islamic extremism, and said that Hamas and Islamic Jihad should take note.
"These words shouldn't come as any surprise," one official said. "Since September 11 Bush has carried the fight against Islamic terrorism."
The official said that after this speech it was unlikely that Bush would show any "leniency or flexibility" to Hamas, Islamic Jihad or Hizbullah as "legitimate partners for peace." Bush, in his address, sent a strong message to Syria and Iran deploring their support to terrorist groups. In a wide-scale speech on the war on terror, he accused the two countries of sheltering and supporting terror organizations and vowed to end this support.
"We're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes," he said. "State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror."
In his speech, which was meant to ready the American public for a long and difficult battle against terror, Bush said that one of the goals of the terrorists is to destroy Israel, and pointed out that the Israeli presence in the West Bank is used by terror groups as an excuse for attacks.
"Over the years, these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: the Israeli presence on the West Bank or the US military presence in Saudi Arabia or the defeat of the Taliban or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world," said Bush. "No act of ours invited the rage of the killers, and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder."
The Israeli official said that, in line with this speech, Bush was likely to tell Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at their scheduled meeting on October 20 that it was incumbent upon him to join those actively fighting radical Islam.
"A very determined and adamant Bush is not someone who will give the Palestinians discounts on these issues," the official said. "Not when his soldiers are getting killed in Iraq, and he sees the killers supported by Syria and Iran."
The official said that Bush views the PA and moderate Arab countries, such as Jordan, as part of a "strategic consensus" needed to fight radical Islam. As such, the official said, Bush was likely to tell Abbas that the time has come for him to take up his part of this fight.