Bush's Last-Minute Dash for Mideast Solution

January 10, 2008 04:24 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
There is skepticism among both Palestinians and Israelis about what can be achieved by Bush's Mideast tour. Israelis wonder whether the Iraq war has weakened their position.

30-Second Summary

Speaking after a two-day round of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, U.S. President George W. Bush said Israel has to return Arab land it occupied in 1967 and compensate Palestinian refugees.  

Bush said he expected that Israelis and Palestinians would sign a peace treaty by the end of 2008. He did not comment on how the status of Jerusalem should be resolved.

The BBC wrote that this is the first time Bush has exerted public pressure on Israel to give up territory.

But both Palestinians and Israelis expressed skepticism ahead of Bush’s visit that his mediation will achieve much.

An Israeli activist for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue said Bush’s attempt at mediation at the end of his presidency was “not serious.” 

The Jerusalem Post said Bush’s involvement in Iraq has helped empower Iran and, as a result, hurt Israel. If Bush wants to curb jihadists, he has to take on Iran, which sponsors anti-Israel militant groups, a Jan. 8 editorial said. 

Palestinian expectations of Bush’s first presidential visit in Israel were downright pessimistic. A Palestinian man in Nablus told USA Today that the president is “too late.” In the same paper, Nablus Councilman Hossam Kataloni said Bush will continue to back Israelis regardless of their actions. “Things just get worse and worse," he said.

Analysts cited in the Los Angeles Times questioned whether Bush has enough determination, authority or time to settle Palestinian-Israeli differences after seven years of “minimal intervention,” as his attitude to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is known among Israelis.

Neither Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas nor Israeli premier Ehud Olmert will risk unpopularity at home by addressing the other side’s grievances first, analysts said ahead of Bush’s visit. Only US pressure can prod things forward, according to USA Today article.

Headline Link: ‘Bush Urges Israeli Occupation End’

Background: The Mideast tour and Annapolis

Opinion & Analysis: Both sides skeptical, Israelis unhappy with Iraq war

Historical Context: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The War of Independence, 1948
Israel was founded after World War II, in the shadow of the Holocaust and under the auspices of the United Nations. The original UN plan was to divide the area then called Palestine into separate, autonomous Arab and Jewish states. Jerusalem was to be given special international status and shared between the two peoples.
Background to the Arab-Israeli conflict

Related Links: US-Iranian standoff


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