by James Bennet
JERUSALEM, April 14 -- By throwing his support on Wednesday behind an Israeli
plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, President Bush provided diplomatic
assurances that represented a victory for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Mr. Sharon wanted three commitments: backing for the Gaza withdrawal,
American recognition that Israel would hold on to parts of the West Bank,
and an American rejection of the right of millions of Palestinian refugees
from the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and their descendants to return to their
lands in what is now Israel. He got them all by promising to trade something
Israelis overwhelmingly do not want any more: the Gaza settlements and a
handful of settlements in the West Bank. And he got them without having to
negotiate with the Palestinians.
Palestinian officials knew that Israel strongly opposed yielding the whole
West Bank or accepting the "right of return," and they had explored
compromises in the past. But they relied on both demands as formidable
negotiating levers. Mr. Bush has now moved to pluck both from their hands.
"Imagine if Palestinians said, 'O.K., we give California to Canada,'" said
Michael Tarazi, a legal adviser for the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"Americans should stop wondering why they have so little credibility in the
For the first time in American diplomacy in the Middle East, Mr. Bush
announced that major Jewish settlements on the West Bank had achieved the
status they aimed for: rooted "facts on the ground," . . .
For Israel, the risk is that the Palestinians will now reject as imposed on
them any peace plan along the lines Mr. Bush laid out, . . .
"Sharon's Herzliyah Speech ,"
December 18, 2003
Wafa Amr, "Furious Palestinians Reject Bush Pledges to Israel," Reuters,
April 14, 2004
Judy Dempsey and Heba Saleh, "EU warns US-Israel
plan will hit peace hopes," Financial Times, April 15, 2004
Tim Reid, "Leaders
attack new twist in the Israel road map," The Times, April 16, 2004
Robert Fisk, "Sharon's 'Courageous'
Plan: Bush Legitimizes Terrorism," The Independent, April 16, 2004
chief killed in air strike," BBC News, April 17, 2004
Eric Margolis, "Bush makes peace with
Sharon," ericmargolis.com, April 19, 2004
to President Bush from Former U.S. Diplomats," April 30, 2004
Suzanne Goldenberg, "Former
diplomats attack Bush: White House accused of sacrificing credibility with
Arab world in US protest that mirrors assault on Blair," The Guardian,
May 4, 2004
[When referring to Palestinian conditions, what we find is that reports of
casualties, house demolitions, and dispossession in these media outlets
pertain to specific cases and not to general patterns. Incidentally, the
opposite is true when there is an incident of Palestinian violence--Paul de
Rooij, "The Scale
of the Carnage: Palestinian Misery in Perspective," CounterPunch, June
James Brooks, "How
Israel "Disperses" Demonstrations: Chemical Warfare on the West
Bank?," CounterPunch, July 5, 2004
Conal Urquhart, "US deal
'wrecks Middle East peace'," Guardian, August 23, 2004
["The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace
process," . . . it is no secret that Ariel Sharon dreams of forcing all the
Palestinians to Jordan,--Georgia Anne Geyer, "SHARON ADVISER REVEALS ISRAEL'S TRUE PLAN FOR PALESTINIANS," UPI,
October 12, 2004]