[Published 4 August 2016]
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have yet to signal their readiness to honour the commitments made by President Bush in his letter dated 14 April 2004 to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Bush’s letter — overwhelmingly endorsed by the House of Representatives 407-9 on 23 June 2004 and the Senate 95-3 the next day — supported Israel’s proposed unilateral disengagement from Gaza and four settlements in the West Bank.
Bush further reassured Israel that in final status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority America would support Israel:
1. not returning to the 1949 armistice linesBush’s assurances were absolutely crucial to Israel resuming negotiations with the Palestinian Authority — Israel’s then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert telling world leaders gathered with Bush at Annapolis on 27 November 2007:
2. demanding recognition as the Jewish state
3. refusing Palestinian Arab refugees being resettled in Israel
“The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap and the April 14th 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”
Former Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz revealed in an editorial that he raised the letter during Bush’s meeting with a group of Israeli journalists at the White House in May 2008:
“Bush did not at first realize that I was referring to the 2004 letter. [National Security Adviser] Hadley, who was also in the Oval Office, had to prompt him. “Okay, the letters,” the president then said, remembering.”Bush’s apparent memory lapse could not be claimed by his successor President Obama who set out to deliberately circumvent Bush’s commitment supporting Israel’s position on territorial withdrawal.
Obama’s attack dog was Hillary Clinton — then Secretary of State - who claimed on 17 June 2009 that the letter:
“did not become part of the official position of the United States government.”
Elliott Abrams — Middle East Affairs point-man at the National Security Council from 2001 to 2009 — had no qualms dismissing Clinton’s contention — stating in July 2009:
“Not only were there agreements, but the prime minister of Israel relied on them in undertaking a wrenching political reorientation—the dissolution of his government, the removal of every single Israeli citizen, settlement and military position in Gaza, and the removal of four small settlements in the West Bank. This was the first time Israel had ever removed settlements outside the context of a peace treaty, and it was a major step”.
Clinton made Obama’s sinister intentions clearer on 25 November 2009:
“We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
Bush’s letter had never mentioned “agreed swaps” — signalling abandonment of the Bush-Congress commitments if Obama himself confirmed Clinton’s statements.
Eighteen months later that confirmation eventuated - Obama declaring on 19 May 2011:
“The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
Michael Oren - Israel’s former Ambassador to Washington between 2009 and 2013 — has called for the Bush letter to be resuscitated. Clinton can do this by distancing herself from Obama’s attempt to trash it.
Trump’s assertion that:
“your friends need to know that you will stick by the agreements that you have with them”
is meaningless unless Trump pledges to unconditionally honour those Bush-Congress commitments.
Halting America’s rapidly declining trustworthiness and diplomatic integrity demands Clinton and Trump so act.