President Bill Clinton gave a speech in September, 1993, in which he said that the PLO and Israel would sign an agreement on the White House lawn that would leave the most important issues the future of Jerusalem and the fate of 3.6 million Arab refugees and their descendents from the 1948 war to be “resolved” seven years later.

My oldest son, Noam, then eleven years old, watched Clinton’s speech and shrugged his shoulders, saying “it looks like everybody is preparing a war for when I will be eighteen”.

How correct Noam was. His Israel army combat service commenced in the Fall of the year of 2000, at the time when the war broke out between Israel and the PLO over the “unresolved” issues of Jerusalem and the Arab refugees from 1948.

What the PLO and Israel could not resolve at the negotiating table moved to the field of battle.

President George W. Bush’s June 2002 speech repeated Clinton’s mistake of September 1993.

Despite Bush’s vision of a democratic and accountable Palestinian Arab entity that could live in peace and harmony with Israel, the president again left the tough issues of Jerusalem and refugees for “future” negotiations.

Despite Bush’s concern for the poverty and suffering that afflicts the Palestinian Arabs, Bush once again relegated the poorest of Palestinian Arab society, the Palestinian Arab refugees, to continue a life of squalor in makeshift UNRWA Arab refugee shantytowns that have been their “temporary” abode since 1949, where they have wallowed under the premise and promise of the “right of return” to their homes and villages which they lost in the 1948 war. These homes and villages from 1948 no longer exist, except in the UNRWA educational system which inculcates the idea of the right of return to the precise homes and villages that they left in 1948, even though their abodes no longer exist.

Bush is now considering an additional $50 million for US AID for the UNRWA to keep these Arab refugees in these squalid conditions… instead of initiating an effort to resettle the Arab refugees in a decent and dignified conditions that would douse the flames of their rebellion.

If the US continues to relegate millions of Arabs to their continued “temporary” refugee status until they can be repatriated to homes that no longer exist, the US fans the flames of anger that may kindle even more violence in the future.

As to Bush’s notion that Jerusalem’s status will be negotiated in the future, this also places unrealistic hopes in the imagination of Palestinian Arabs. That is because Israel annexed all of Jerusalem in 1967, after 19 years when Arabs ruled East Jerusalem and denied Jews any access to the Jewish Holy Sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. The current PLO campaign, repeated time and again by Arafat, calls for the liberation of “Holy Jerusalem”. Bush’s speech gives hope to the Palestinian Arabs that they may have an ally in their war to liberate holy Jerusalem.

As in 1993, what the PLO and Israel cannot resolve at the negotiating table will move to the field of battle.

Bush’s speech of 2002, like Clinton’s message in 1993, remains a prescription for war.


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.