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Abbas visits the Emperor - Again

10/20/2005

The question I keep asking myself about the Bush-Abbas meeting is, "Was this trip really necessary?' Honestly, I could not understand what was to be accomplished, and I still can't. Abbas is not going to disarm the Hamas. Bush is not going to get the Israelis to relax security or to freeze settlement construction. Certainly not by making public announcements.

We understand that Bush needed to show he is interested in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Abbas needed to show that he has the support of Bush. Considering the high price of jet fuel however, and the dim prospects that anything practical could come from this meeting, Abbas should have spent his time at home taking care of urgent business. We can comfort ourselves with the hope that the visit was justified because they talked about some issues that were not made public.

The only thing of possible interest that was made public was that Bush is naming a different coordinator to replace General Ward. One subject that must have come up and which is mentioned in a roundabout way in President Abbas's remarks is the worrisome infiltration of Syrian controlled infiltrators into Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, which prompted the Lebanese to surround the camps with tanks. This has to be worrying both Bush and Abbas, since the Syrian-controlled Palestinian groups have never been friendly to the PNA. Abbas said:


We are determined not to interfere in domestic Lebanese affairs.


By which he meant, of course, the opposite. If he was not going to interfere in Lebanese affairs, he would not mention it in his speech. That is interference in itself.

Needless to say, both sides and their partisans, Israelis and Palestinians, are busy turning out versions of the meeting that suit their needs.

Haaretz newspaper managed to totally ignore Bush's remarks about settlements. Their headline read, Bush: Palestinians must reject and fight terrorism. For Palestinians that is an important warning perhaps, since Ha'aretz is generally on the dovish side of the fence. Israelis clearly want to see progress in fighting terror, not just temporary calm that lasts as long as the IDF can catch the people smuggling weapons.

Palestinians want Israel to relax security and freeze settlement activity. Both sides wave the roadmap , around but neither side is interested in implementing its own undertakings under the road map. Abbas complained in the Wall Street Journal that Israel is preventing implementation of the Roadmap and therefore Israel is helping his oppnents. He forgot that he is supposed to dismantle the terror groups according to the road map, and he forgot that it is he who admitted Hamas into the electoral process without disarming them or demanding that they agree to a negotiated settlement with Israel. Mr. Sharon on the other hand, seems to have forgotten that Abbas can't stay in power unless he shows genuine improvement in the lives of Palestinians, and of course, Sharon forgot about those inconvenient illegal outposts, which are due to be dismantled according to th very same roadmap.


Major highlights of the press conference.

Bush:


n the coming days, I'll be naming our new coordinator to build on the progress General Ward has made. This person will take on an enhanced mission to help President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority carry out their responsibility to end terror attacks, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, maintain law and order, and, one day, provide security for their own state.

The way forward must include rebuilding the Palestinian economy. This goal has the support of the Quartet: the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia. Quartet Special Envoy Jim Wolfensohn is coordinating a broad effort to generate economic and financial support from the international community for the Palestinian Authority, and he's doing a good job. I'm going to continue to consult with our Quartet partners to ask Jim to extend his mission until next spring.

It's important that we make quick progress on the issues that Jim has identified as most critical for the Palestinian economy, including opening the Rafah crossing, connecting the West Bank in Gaza, improving the ability of Palestinians to travel in the West Bank, and beginning work on the Gaza seaport. These are all practical steps that will help the Palestinian economy grow and flourish. I believe that Arab states have a particular responsibility to help the Palestinians build a strong and prosperous economy, and I urge them to create an environment in the region that strengthens the possibility of peace.

The way forward must continue to include democratic elections. The upcoming elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council offer an opportunity to open the door to the next generation of Palestinian leaders. They'll be responsible for building a peaceful and hopeful future for their country.

In the short-term, the Palestinian Authority must earn the confidence of its peoples, by holding elections and having a functioning government that delivers economic opportunity. The Palestinian Authority must also earn the confidence of its neighbors by rejecting and fighting terrorism.

As I have stated in the past, achieving peace demands action from all parties. Israel must continue to work with Palestinian leaders to help improve the daily lives of Palestinians. At the same time, Israel should not undertake any activity that contravenes its road map obligations, or prejudices the final status negotiations with regard to Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem. This means that Israel must remove unauthorized posts and stop settlement expansion. It also means that the barrier now being built to protect Israelis from terrorist attacks must be a security barrier, rather than a political barrier. Israeli leaders must take into account the impact this security barrier has on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.


Bush in answer to a question:


.. But one thing that will not happen is that we will try -- the United States will try to conform and force parties to make decisions based upon the political schedule in America. That doesn't make any sense. What matters is the decisions made by the Palestinians and the Israelis, and the confidence earned as we move forward.

And so you said I would like to see two states before I get out of office." Not true. I'd like to see two states. And if it happens before I get out of office, I'll be there to witness the ceremony. And if it hadn't -- if it doesn't, we will work hard to lay that foundation so that the process becomes irreversible.

Abbas:


Mr. President, our discussions today have allowed us to inform you of what the Palestinian National Authority is doing and what we are doing in terms of various policies in various spheres. We have worked and we will continue to work to continue to ensure the calm and maintain it. We are also intensifying our work in the field of security. We have taken active steps in imposing the rule of law and public order and banned armed demonstrations.

Our measures are continuing to reinforce the judiciary branch, as well as the administrative reform. We have said and we did during the last week start launching a series of economic projects in the infrastructure and in health and education and agriculture in both Gaza and the West Bank.

...

Our discussion of the overall situation in the region has afforded us the opportunity to point out what we reaffirmed repeatedly through the past few weeks on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization: We are determined not to interfere in domestic Lebanese affairs. We reiterate that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are subject to the authority and the laws of Lebanon as temporary guests awaiting the resolution of the refugee problem in the accordance with the international resolutions.

Mr. President, we reaffirm again here today our commitment to peace and negotiated settlement. We expect that our people's quest in this direction will be supported. The time has come to put an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The time has come that the Palestinian people will attain their freedom and independence. The time has come to move quickly towards the resumption of permanent status negotiations.

Peace requires a departure from the policies of occupation and the adoption of the principle of freedom. Peace requires departure from the policies of settlements construction, the collective punishment, unilateral acts that undermine your vision toward two states and replace that with progress towards negotiations. Peace and security cannot be guaranteed by the construction of walls, by the erection of checkpoints, and the confiscation of land, but rather by the recognition of rights.

Peace cannot be attained by the enforcement of discriminatory road policies and by the policies of imposition and creation of facts on the ground, but rather through belief in the principles of partnership, parity and mutual respect.

We are presenting, based on wide public support, our positions that call upon the Israeli side to join us in a real partnership for making peace. We are calling for a Palestinian-Israeli partnership for the sake of creating a better future, and for the entire region that can end decades from wars, occupation, and open the doors wide open. We were promised peace, independence and freedom, and we hope that all of this will be achieved.

The rest of it is at:
www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051020.html

It seems like a re-run of the last time Abbas visited the Emperor. Bush said what he said, and Abbas said what he said, and everyone simled for the cameras.

Was that worth a trip to Washington??? You tell me.

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 1 Comment

Bush's "even-handed" call to Israel is out of order. Until the Arabs stop their terror and put their terror gangs out of business, Israel has no obligations under the "road map". Further, the Arabs have started a fight and as in the past, they have lost again. They have no right to dictate peace terms. They must pay a price for their crimes.
The argument that if the Palestinian's lot is not improved Abbas cannot stay in power is nonsense. The Palestinian's lot will improve when they lay down their arms and discard their delusions. The holocaust denier Abbas can stay or go - that is not a basis to form policy.

Posted by Paul Winter @ 10/21/2005 06:18 PM CST


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