Five years and three weeks ago, Bush delivered his first two-state speech, envisioning “two states [Israel and Palestine] living side by side in peace.” A year and a half before his term ends, the American president on Saturday tried to save something of his vision. This time, though, Bush did not spell out a timetable but chose to express support for Mahmoud Abbas and supports the idea that “the Palestinian government must arrest terrorists, dismantle their infrastructure and confiscate illegal weapons”.
However, as policy analyst Aaron Lerner notes, “the program of ‘moderate’ Abbas is to put terrorists on the Palestinian Authority [PA] payroll, integrate the terror infrastructure into the Palestinian security system and upgrade their weapons.” Meanwhile, Bush talks of the “moderate” PA “confiscating” illegal weapons, not destroying them. In Lerner’s words, “Bush apparently endorses the bizarre situation that the Palestinians can smuggle in whatever weapons they want and then ‘confiscate’ them so that they can keep them regardless of the restrictions agreed upon in the various Oslo agreements.”
Fatah is, by definition, anything but dedicated to peace and reconciliation.
The Fatah constitution calls for the “complete liberation of Palestine, and obliteration of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.” As for how it will achieve its goal to wipe Israel off the map, Fatah’s constitution minces no words: “Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab people’s armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated.”
Abbas called on Palestinians to refrain from internal fighting and to direct their guns only against Israeli “occupation.” Abbas went on to say that he would “not give up one inch of land in Jerusalem” – all of Jerusalem. President Bush overlooks the fact that Abbas was elected in January 2005 on a platform calling for the “right of return” to allow all Palestinian Arab refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants to take back the villages that no longer exist inside Israel. In other words, President Bush’s latest speech for peace embraces a Palestinian who cannot and will not deliver the goods.
This article appeared in the Philadelphia Bulletin, July 23rd, 2007