President Bush says he will return to the Middle East in May to help push the peace process forward and mark Israel's 60th anniversary. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports the president spoke at Israel's main airport as he prepared to leave for Kuwait.
A military honor guard took its place on the tarmac of Ben Gurion airport as President Bush approached Air Force One.
He walked over to reporters standing at the foot of the plane and told them he saw a real chance for peace. He thanked his hosts and told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres that he wants to help.
The comments came at the end of an historic three-day visit to Israel and the West Bank during which Mr. Bush spent hours in separate discussions with Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
In a statement Thursday, he said his conversations convinced him an agreement is possible by the time he leaves office next January. He said the objective must be an end to Israeli occupation, and he warned both sides that difficult political concessions will be necessary.
After all the official business, Mr. Bush ended his trip to Israel Friday on a symbolic note - paying homage to the victims of the Nazi holocaust.
The president stood in the great stone hall of remembrance at Yad Vashem - Israel's holocaust memorial - as a children's choir sang a song of hope. He reignited a memorial flame and placed a wreath on a concrete slab that covers the ashes of victims of six concentration camps.
There was a moment of silence, and then a chanted prayer.
As he emerged from the hall, Mr. Bush said Yad Vashem is a sobering reminder that evil exists and must be resisted.
"I was most impressed that people in the face of horror and evil would not forsake their god, and in the face of unspeakable crimes against humanity, brave souls - young and old - stood strong for what they believe," he said.
After his visit to Yad Vashem, President Bush helicoptered to the Galilee region for a tour of Christian holy sites.
The next stop on the president's Mideast journey is Kuwait - the first of five Arab states on his itinerary. Mr. Bush will hold private talks with the Emir, and will travel to a U.S. military installation near Kuwait City. While at the base, he will consult with his top military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and the senior U.S. diplomat in Baghdad, Ambassador Ryan Crocker.