President Bush announced today after a historic meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he envisions an independent Palestinian state within a year—just hours after he also vowed to back a decision by Israel to create settlements in disputed parts of Jerusalem, over international objections. The president's juggling demonstrates the difficulty of satisfying both sides in the Mideast conflict.
"I believe there will be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office," Bush said at a press conference with Abbas. The president, who also earlier told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert he'd give Israel a free hand to continue military action against Palestinian militants, wants to give both leaders a way to sell his peace initiative to their people. Bush said neither side should "lose sight of the potential for a historic agreement."