ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - President Bush says it's time to relaunch peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians because, in his words, "a battle is under way for the future of the Middle East."
The White House is previewing Bush's opening remarks at the conference in Annapolis, Maryland.
Envoys from more than 40 nations will be looking on as Israeli and Palestinian leaders sit down for their first real peace talks in seven years.
Bush says it will not be easy to achieve the goal of creating two states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace after decades of conflict and bloodshed, yet he urges the two sides to work together for the sake of their people.
Bush says a "democratic, viable" Palestinian state will give Palestinians "the chance to lead lives of freedom, purpose and
He says "such a state will help provide Israelis with something they have been seeking for generations: to live in peace with their neighbors."
Meanwhile, thousands of people in the Gaza Strip rallied against the Mideast peace conference Tuesday, chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
The Islamic radicals are calling Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a
"collaborator" for attending the conference in Annapolis, Maryland.
The leader of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh insists the summit is "doomed to failure." Haniyeh says his group will not disarm.
Gaza's Hamas rulers have been staging daily demonstrations against the meeting, vowing to reject any decisions that come out of Annapolis.
Polls show a majority of both Palestinians and Israelis favor a negotiated settlement to the Mideast conflict.
However, a majority on each side is skeptical the current peace push will bear fruit.
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