Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

President Bush Presses The Palestine Panic Button

[PublishedJuly 2007]

President George Bush is having a panic attack as his five year old vision of implanting an Arab state between Israel and Jordan in 6% of historic Palestine - the Bush Dream - has turned into a nightmare.

The President has been exposed as totally powerless and lacking in influence to resolve what seemed to him to be so readily achievable in 2002.

The Bush Dream has yet to get off the ground in the slightest detail and still remains only a distant mirage on the political horizon despite intense diplomacy over the last four years by America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - the Quartet - to transform it into a reality.

A desperate President Bush has now fallen back on three old chestnuts - an international conference, providing lots of weapons and throwing $190 million at the problem - in a last ditch effort to salvage something from the wreckage of his Middle East policy that is in tatters and utter disarray

The recipient of this largesse is Palestinian Authority President and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas who has been unceremoniously and ignominiously removed from control of Gaza and its 1.5 million inhabitants and who has no power to make any agreement with Israel that can possibly bind the Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza.

President Bush is simply wasting his time and needlessly squandering his country's resources in thinking that Mr Abbas can ever deliver on the Bush Dream for the following further reasons:

1. No meaningful negotiations can even begin until the repeal of those provisions of the Palestine Liberation Organisation Covenant which

(a) call for the State of Israel to be eliminated by armed military struggle and

(b) deny the legality of existing international agreements in relation to the former territory of Palestine - including the Mandate for Palestine, article 80 of the United Nations Charter and Security Council Resolution 242.

These provisions in the PLO Covenant are the very antithesis of the Bush Dream.

Creating a climate conducive to a peaceful resolution of the conflict can only be achieved by first erasing these offensive provisions.

President Bush has erred badly in not conditioning his further diplomatic and financial support on these provisions being immediately repealed.

2. President Bush's latest statement makes it clear that any negotiations "must lead to a territorial settlement with mutually agreed borders reflecting previous lines and current realities, and mutually agreed adjustments."

However Mr Abbas is unwilling to concede one square metre of the West Bank to Israel and requires Israel to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines -a sure fire recipe for sinking any negotiations.

How can the Bush Dream ever eventuate given this totally uncompromising stance by Mr Abbas?

Furthermore "the current realities" are that

(a) Mr Abbas is demanding that 450000 Jews be uprooted from their existing homes for the Bush Dream to come to fruition.

(b) Mr Bush has already signalled this is not acceptable in a letter dated 14 April 2004 to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declaring:.

"In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities. "

How then can President Bush contemplate the successful conclusion of a final status agreement to which Mr Abbas is a party given his intransigent stance on these basic issues?

3. Remarkably Mr. Bush's latest statement makes no mention of a very sensitive issue - the demand by Mr Abbas that millions of Arabs be allowed to go and live in Israel. Mr Abbas has never indicated the slightest interest in modifying this demand - which is totally unacceptable to Israel.

However President Bush's letter to Mr Sharon makes America's position very clear:

" It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel."

This is a deal breaker on its own. No wonder President Bush seeks to gloss it over. His reticence indicates an unwillingness by him to come to grips with recognising that further negotiations with Mr Abbas are doomed before they begin.

The Bush Dream - as well intentioned and heartfelt as it was when it was first proposed in 2002 - has failed and has now joined many other similar proposals that have fallen by the wayside over the last 70 years.

Prolonging the agony and raising false expectations can only be the end result of this latest effort to resuscitate a process that has realistically never had a chance of succeeding since it was first announced.

The adage - "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink" - succinctly describes President Bush's failure to get the Arabs to genuinely negotiate with Israel in resolving the Arab-Jewish conflict. He joins many other famous statesmen and diplomats whose efforts went unrewarded for the same reason.

Better he wakes up to the reality now than suffer the indignity of further rebuffs.

Humility is far preferable to humiliation - and there is plenty of that in store for President Bush if he continues down the road to nowhere.

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