Monday, February 21, 2005

Bush's Doublespeak

Our greatest opportunity and immediate goal is peace in the Middle East. After many false starts and dashed hopes and stolen lives, a settlement of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is now within reach.

America and Europe have made a moral commitment: We will not stand by as another generation in the Holy Land grows up in an atmosphere of violence and hopelessness.

America and Europe also share a strategic interest. By helping to build a lasting peace, we will remove an unsettled grievance that is used to stir hatred and violence across the Middle East.

Our efforts are guided by a clear vision: We're determined to see two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The Palestinian people deserve a government that is representative, honest and peaceful. The people of Israel need an end to terror and a reliable, steadfast partner for peace. And the world must not rest until there is a just and lasting resolution to this conflict.

All the parties have responsibilities to meet.

Arab states must end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism, stop their support for extremist education, and establish normal relations with Israel.

Palestinian leaders must confront and dismantle terrorist groups, fight corruption, encourage free enterprise, and rest true authority with the people. Only a democracy can serve the hopes of Palestinians and make Israel secure and raise the flag of a free Palestine.

A successful Palestinian democracy should be Israel's top goal as well. So Israel must freeze settlement activity, help Palestinians build a thriving economy, and ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable, with contiguous territory on the West Bank.

A state of scattered territories will not work.

The Guardian - Transcript of Bush Remarks in Belgium

In his effort to appease European nations who were not there when he needed them most, President George Bush laid on the line his closest ally - the State of Israel. Until now, Bush has always referred to Israel's obligation to allow for "contiguous" (as oppose to "continuous") territory to make up the West Bank component of the new Palestinian state. He has now gone a step further and hinted that he has blurred the line between contiguous and continuous and requires the territories not to be scattered. This wording posses serious problems for the State of Israel and allows for a fet a compli declaration of borders resembling the pre 1967 borders.

The reference seems to indicate that Barak's Camp David proposal is no longer good enough in the eyes of the US administration. This gives in to the European position that despite the fact that the territory covered 90 odd percent (it varies somewhat by method of calculation) of land and included 98% of West Bank Palestinians, it was not attractive as it was quartered (allowing for potential road blocks in the event of a terror attack).

It is vital for Israel's sake and for the sake of peace seeking nations around the world that the Palestinian position after resorting to 4 years of violence is somewhat worse than the position they could have had if not for their choice to walk out at Camp David. Otherwise, there is no potential territorial loss from leaving the negotiation table and trying to force a better hand through terrorism. This is the same reason why Israel must not return to the pre-1967 borders - the instigators of a war must know that the downside of defeat is real and permanent.

Bush seeks to get out of Iraq and has made the strategic decision that the Europeans can be of use to him at this stage. As he is requesting European help with Iraq and a consolidated position on nuclear states, they hold the chips in the bargaining process, and he has offered them the only chip he can still play with - Israel's future.

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