Israel Looks for Bush to Complete 'Circle of Peace'

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israel is looking for the completion of the "circle of peace" in the region during the second term of President Bush, Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on Wednesday.

In a congratulatory message to Bush issued from his bureau, Shalom praised the U.S., with the president at its head for providing "strong leadership in the international fight against the forces of extremism" and for making "a lasting contribution to peace and stability."

Shalom said that Americans "have now spoken in support of this leadership and the need to follow through with the critical mission of advancing the values of democracy and freedom, liberty and opportunity."

Although Israeli leaders shy away from mixing in American politics or backing one political candidate or another, it has been clear that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has a special relationship with President Bush. Bush has been called the best friend Israel has ever had in the White House.

"Israel and the United States have been strategic allies for decades," Shalom said. "This partnership is based on deep-rooted, common values and a commitment to peace that is shared across the entire political spectrum in both countries."

Describing the contributions of past U.S. presidents to the peace process, Shalom said that the U.S. had been "the driving international force" in Israel's efforts to achieve peace with her neighbors.

"We hope that during President Bush's second term, we can complete the circle of peace and deliver a better future to all peoples of the region," Shalom said.

On Wednesday, the Israeli daily Ma'ariv quoted a Foreign Ministry report saying that whoever wins the presidency Israel would likely come under increasing pressure from the U.S.

Speaking before the election results were made final U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer said that whoever would win the elections would continue to support efforts to return to the road map peace plan.

"When we talk about our relationship with Israel we don't use the word pressure," Kurtzer said. "The United States is very supportive of the Israeli government's policies."

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