The President, I think, was encouraged by what he heard. What Prime Minister Fayyad is doing is very much worthy of support. And that's one of the things -- one of the messages he took to the various Arab leaders that he has met here in Sharm el Sheikh -- that the Palestinian Authority's efforts are real, they are deserving of support, diplomatic support, but they are also very much deserving of financial support. And the countries of the region need to do what we are doing, which is to make a dramatic increase in financial contributions to the Palestinian Authority so it can pursue the initiatives that it has underway.
He is also urging the Arab leaders he has met with to provide political support to President Abbas for the negotiating effort. It will be very important that whatever President Abbas agrees to with the Israelis as a result of those negotiations have the strong support of Arab leaders if this process is going to succeed, as we all hope it succeeds, to lead to a permanent Palestinian -- permanent peace between Palestinian and Israelis and a reconciliation between Israel and the Arab nations.
In all of these discussions, and I think one of the dominant themes of the trip, has been Iran . The President has talked about, and you've heard him talk about, there is a struggle going on in this region between the forces of change and progress and reform, and those that are supporting terror and the killing of civilians as a tool to achieve political power.
And one of the things I think that was clear on this trip, whether the President was talking to Israelis, Palestinians or Arab leaders, there is now a consensus understanding that that is what is going on in this region, and that Iran is very much behind that struggle -- it is Iran that stands behind what we see Hezbollah doing in Lebanon , what we see Hamas doing in the Palestinian Territories, and what we see illegal Shia militia doing in Iraq . And increasingly we see Iran's hand in the struggle in Afghanistan .
It is a serious challenge to the bright prospect that the President, the Israelis, the Palestinian leaders and the Arab leaders the President met with here -- it is a great challenge to the vision that I think all of them share. But it is a challenge that we can confront, and is a challenge that we can succeed in overcoming.
Iraq is on the front line of that challenge. Iran , as you know, is very much behind activity in southern Iraq , which is directed against the Iraqi government. And the Iraqi government in recent weeks has shown a real confidence and initiative in dealing with the illegal militias' challenge, both in southern Iraq and in Sadr City, and they are having success.
So one of the first places to deliver a bit of a setback to Iran is actually for the Iraqi government to succeed in what it is doing to take on illegal militia in the southern part of the country and in Sadr City. And one of the things that the President did on this trip was to urge very much for the Arab leaders to embrace this new government, to give it diplomatic support, to make that support tangible in terms of receiving and inviting visitors from the Iraqi government, returning ambassadors, doing debt forgiveness, and the like. And that was a strong part of his message here.
Lebanon , there also is an opportunity. As you know, there are negotiations going on among the major Lebanese factions, being brokered by Arab leaders and by the Arab League. This can lead to an end to the political stalemate, but only if it does not reward Hezbollah, and if it supports the elected government that was put in office by the people of Lebanon . And part of that opportunity is the fact that the people of Lebanon are realizing that in the events of the last 10 days, Hezbollah was not, as they claimed, defending Lebanon against Israel ; Hezbollah was using its militia against the Lebanese government and against the Lebanese people. And that is the context in which those discussions need to occur.
And finally, in the Palestinian Territories, there is a struggle between those Palestinian leaders who want peace, and those Palestinian leaders -- Hamas -- that are in control of Gaza , and have shown themselves clearly opponents of peace, and using their ability to attack Israel , particularly by rockets and missiles, as a way of trying to derail the peace negotiations that are going forward.