- (YellowTimes.org) - Bush gave his long awaited speech
on his vision for a new Palestinian State in the rose garden flanked by
Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and Don "Rummy" Rumsfeld on June 25,
2002. After weeks of anticipation as to whether Bush was going to abandon
his "I love Sharon" policy, which gave the right wing hawks in
his party the heebie jeebies, Bush showed he was true to form. Visionary
speech? I think not. The speech was all puff and no substance.
- It held up a vision of a promised land, without any concrete
steps to get there. All the requirements to move towards a Palestinian
state were placed squarely on the Palestinians' shoulders, already bowed
under the weight of 35 plus years of occupation. There were no substantive
"requirements" of the Israeli government. It has been mockingly
suggested that these were Sharon's words out of Bush's mouth.
- According to the Bush dogma, Palestinians are required
to stop all terrorist activities; a sentiment we can all agree with. However,
considering that Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah lies in rubble on the
heels of three Israeli incursions since March 29, 2002, the Israelis have
almost made it impossible for Arafat to do that which they insist he do,
viz., stop the terrorists.
- Both physically and psychologically the Sharon government
by its actions has tied Arafat's hands. The Israeli army has decimated
the infrastructure of the Palestinian authorities - office buildings, jails,
police, telephones and computers lie smashed in rubble.
- At the same time it has raised the ire of the Palestinian
peoples whose support for the terrorist suicide bombings has increased
many-fold. This is like asking a man who has lost both his hands to capture
and hold down the murderer. Hello!
- The Palestinians have been asked to set up the infrastructure
of a new democratic society. Again, a perfectly valid recommendation. However,
Bush also intimated who will not be acceptable as the "newly"
elected leader of the provisional Palestinian State. It was the unmentioned
name that hung like a thick cloud over his speech. "Arafat who?"
- If the U.S. asks for democratic elections, does that
not mean that the Palestinians have the right to choose whom they will?
How does Bush deem that he can call for democratic elections, with the
condition it cannot be "you know who"! If Arafat is considered
an unacceptable peace partner by the Israeli government, the same holds
true for Sharon, who is considered a war criminal by the Palestinians.
- Maybe Bush should be more even handed and ask both Sharon
(along with his nemesis Bibi Netanyahu) and Arafat to step aside.
- Bush should also be careful of what he asks for. What
good would it do for the peace process if we succeed in getting rid of
Arafat, and if then he is replaced by the fanatical head of either Hamas,
or Islamic Jihad?
- Bush's call for a Palestinian state in three years only
if all his conditions are met by the Palestinian peoples is way too distant,
way too condition driven, and way too one sided.
- How about some conditions on the Israelis? How about
asking them to stop using Arafat as their personal "piñata,"
every time a terrorist commits a murderous suicide bombing? Compared to
the extremist Palestinian groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Arafat
is a moderate who has come to accept a two state solution. Israel should
go after the terrorist groups, or assist Arafat in going after them, instead
of using Arafat as a false bogie man to maintain their hold on the occupied
territories in their aggrandized vision of a "greater Israel"
in the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria.
- The idea of a "greater Israel" has been egged
on by zealous Evangelist Christians who have done a 180 degree turn around
from their anti-Semitic stance in the early part of the 20th century to
becoming the biggest supporters of Israelis controlling all of the Palestinian
lands. This can be evidenced by listening to Pat Robertson exhorting forth
on the rights of Israelis to occupy all of Judea and Sumaria (the West
- Or, if one listened to House Majority Leader Dick Armey's
embarrassing faux pas on Hardball on May 1, 2002, where he called for a
greater Zionist state of Israel and physically transporting the Palestinians
to another state. His statement calling for the ethnic cleansing of the
Palestinian peoples was so outrageous that even Chris Matthews jaw dropped
as he incredulously asked Dick Armey if he really meant what he was saying.
- The next day the majority leader's office released a
more subdued and revised version of what Dick had really "meant to
- However, the Jewish people should be careful of their
newly found friends including their "best" friend in the White
House. The end game for these two peoples is very different. The Evangelists
believe that the Apocalypse can only happen after Israel gains dominance
in the biblical lands. This must precede the second coming of the Lord,
at which time two-thirds of the Jews will be killed in a holy war and the
remaining one-third will be converted to Christianity. Exit Judaism!
- Why did Bush not state that U.S. aid would be conditional
on the Israelis complying with the U.S. historical stance that all building
of settlements should be halted, and that the Israeli settlements are illegal
in the occupied territories? This is also the position held by the United
Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the rest of the world.
- Why are there no punitive conditions imposed on the Israelis
when they flaunt their disregard for the U.S., the UN and world position
on settlements? Why would Bush only withhold aid from the Palestinians
if they do not follow "his" policy to remove Arafat, which appears
to be based on a peevish personal dislike and is not supported by the UN
or EU or other world authority?
- Bush also exhorted other Middle Eastern states to stop
supplying arms and money to the terrorist groups within Palestine. Again,
a perfectly legitimate requirement. Yet he failed to recognize the U.S.
has allowed, nay even fostered, an uneven war to exist by supplying $3.8
billion in aid annually to the Israeli government, which is mainly used
by the Israelis to buy U.S. military hardware to continue their 35 plus
years subjugation of a peoples.
- A visionary president would have laid down a far more
comprehensive and evenhanded peace plan requiring both sides to halt their
misdeeds. The requirements should be "unilateral." This would
prevent Israel from using the "perennial excuse" they have for
decades to avoid the steps they need to take based on the notion that Arafat
or the Palestinian Liberation Authority had not met its obligations.
- Israeli settlements on the occupied lands are wrong under
UN Charter and should be disbanded no matter what the other side is doing
or not doing. They are also the cause of much of the frustration of the
Palestinian people who see their land being usurped daily, a few acres
at a time, making any final resolution of a Palestinian State less and
less of a reality.
- This is really what has led to this second Intifada -
a desperation born out of the belief that the Israelis are not willing
to give up their hold of the West bank and Gaza. The practice of building
settlements must be stopped now! The U.S. must withhold its purse, if necessary,
to force the Israelis to dismantle these settlements.
- A truly visionary speech would have included the following:
- * A two-state solution along the pre-1967 borders within
eighteen months, with one exception, Israel would have nominal control
of the western wall. (He should have made it specific as to the final borders,
and time specific.) * A defense treaty between the U.S. and Israel up to
the1967 borders. * A provision UN peacekeeping force (including Americans)
and/or a NATO force to monitor all aspects of peace and as a means to keep
the two-sides apart during a cooling off period. (Something Israel has
been adamantly against, so that they can go about their illegal actions.)
The UN forces would be responsible for stopping the terrorist suicide bombings
and going after the terrorist nests. The UN should also be required to
stop the Israeli army going willy-nilly into the Palestinian controlled
areas. * An absolute requirement for Israel to not only not build or expand
new settlements, but to disband all Israeli settlements outside the 1967
borders and the resettlement of the settlers within the Israeli borders
within eighteen months. Israelis who choose to remain in the West Bank
will have to revoke their Israeli citizenship and become Palestinian Jews.
They will not be afforded any special protection by the Israeli government.
* A requirement that the "right of return" of the Palestinian
refugees be limited to the newly formed Palestinian state. With Israel's
acceptance, a small minority of refugees could return to their family homes
inside Israel proper as Israeli Arabs. Arafat's obstinacy on this has shown
he does not understand that compromise requires tough choices. * A requirement
for Palestinians to build the infrastructures of a democratic society,
a judiciary system, and a market economy. (This was part of Bush's speech.)
* A requirement for other Middle Eastern governments to act in a responsible
manner and stop funding terrorism. While this was part of Bush's speech,
it is also important for America to stop funding Israel's state sponsored
terrorism. U.S. aid should be specifically targeted to help the Israelis
resettle the settlers within Israel's 1967 borders. * A treaty between
the U.S. and Provisional Palestinian government, which should be set up
immediately after free and fair elections to safeguard their 1967 borders.
* The U.S. should provide aid and assistance in rebuilding the infrastructure
of the West bank and Gaza. (This was part of Bush's speech.) * Finally,
Bush could take the matter out of the hand of corrupt politicians on both
sides of the divide. Bush should take Sharon and Arafat out of the equation
and go directly to the people. Bush should propose a referendum to be held
in both Palestine and Israel where the people would directly vote for:
- A two state solution along the pre-1967 borders:
- (1) Israelis settlers would be required to return to
Israel proper, or give up their citizenship and any rights thereof and
live as Palestinian Jews in harmony with the indigenous population.
- (2) The right of return of Palestinians would be limited
to the newly formed Palestinian state. Israel would have to accept as many
Palestinians inside Israel proper as the Israeli settlers who choose to
remain in the West bank and Gaza.
- (3) Jerusalem will be divided along the pre-1967 borders,
with one exception, the Israelis would get control (or share control) of
the Western Wall (this is distinct from the Wailing Wall, which will also
remain in Israeli control). West Jerusalem would serve as the Israeli Capital,
and East Jerusalem would be the capital of the newly formed state of Palestine.
- (4) A peace treaty should be signed between the two neighboring
states, and between Israel and the surrounding Arab nations, which would
include a normalization of relations between the Jewish and the Arab states.
The vote on the referendum would be set up with the Palestinians being
required to vote first - a week before the Israelis go to the polls. If
as expected a majority of Palestinians vote "yes," then we can
expect the Israeli population to feel safe in voting a resounding "yes"
on the referendum.
- Unless Bush, who currently wears the mantle of U.S. president,
shows he is going to be an honest broker and tough on both parties, where
toughness is due, this speech is nothing more than political rhetoric.
- Without being evenhanded this is just another pretty
speech, whose aim is to help Bush humor his right wing base, and win over
some Jewish votes (usually the Democrat's constituency) for the Republicans
(Karl Rove's strategy), while doing nothing to lessen the hatred and anger
that is about to blow up the powder keg, which is the Middle East. ___
- A.F. Nariman has been interested in United States and
world politics for close to twenty-six years. She has been a C-span junkie
for the past decade or more. She has a yen for sleuthing out the intricacies
of a political story. Her forte' is in the U.S. budget, as she is a Financial
Advisor by profession and has a bachelor of science degree in mathematics
and a MBA in Financial Institutions and Markets. She is a U.S. citizen
and resides in New York State.
- A.F. Nariman encourages your comments: anariman@YellowTimes.org