The Palestinians are disappointed in President Bush’s speech and particularly in the demand that they replace their leadership, which implies a demand to remove Arafat from power.

The Palestinians were also disappointed that Bush did not call on Israel to “stop its aggression” and to begin negotiations immediately with a strict timetable for implementation.

But in an attempt to appease the US and to maintain an open channel of discourse with the administration, the Palestinian leadership and Arafat issued a statement referring the to speech positively. But off the record Palestinian officials said: “This speech presented Sharon’s ideas combined with the American vision of two states. The demand to replace Arafat is not realistic.”

Officially, Arafat said that he welcomed the ideas raised by President Bush in his speech and he considers them to contribute and promote the peace process. “The leadership hopes to discuss the necessary details to secure the success of these ideas through direct and bilateral meetings with the American administration and with the consultation of the quartet [the US, Europe, Russia and the UN] and the Arab brothers.”

This piece ran in Yediot Aharonot on June 25, 2002