US Vice-President Dick Cheney expressed the hope that a "viable, democratic and peaceful Palestinian state be born soon" and criticized Palestinian homemade shell fire in to Israeli areas. Cheney was speaking during a joint press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "The U.S. remains strongly committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state," Cheney stated.

He went on saying "achieving a Palestinian state will require a tremendous effort at the negotiating table and painful concessions by both sides. It will also require a determination to curb those who opt for violence and refuse the basic right of the other to exist."

Referring to the situation in Gaza, where Hamas has gained full control since June of last year, Cheney added "terrorism and rockets do not only kill civilians, but they also kill the legitimate hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people."

Cheney's statements made no mention of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and military escalation against the territory, which has claimed hundreds of Palestinian civilian lives and has caused an ongoing humanitarian crisis over the past three months.  He also did not address controversial expansion activity of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian lands. 

The US administration has repeatedly demanded that Israel stop this activity, inline with the 2003 US-backed "Road Map" peace plan. Meanwhile, President Abbas, asked his guest to help pressure Israel to freeze new settlement expansion plans, which preempt Israel/Palestinian final status talks. "

To achieve peace, what is required is will, courage, and strong support from the international community, especially the US," Abbas stated. Cheney's visit to the region comes after the US President visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in January 2008, in which he encouraged Israelis and Palestinians to advance peace talks.  Since being revived by Washington last November, the Palestinian/Israeli peace process has achieved no tangible progress.

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