NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed its concern and disappointment at the latest indications that the Bush administration is pressuring Israel to make more one-sided concessionseven before the Palestinian Arabs have fulfilled any of the conditions he spelled out in his June 24 speech.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reports (July 29, 2002) that U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer [told Israeli officials] late last week that steps such as a settlement freeze should be taken in the name of an improved atmosphere between Israel and the Palestinians. (Since Israel long ago stopped establishing new settlements, the term settlement freeze is understood to mean a halt to all construction activity in existing Jewish communities in the territories.) Haaretz reported that Kurtzer also demanded that Israel transfer to the PA tens of millions of dollars in funds that Israel was withholding because the PA was using the money to sponsor terrorism. It said the Bush administration is also pressuring Israel to withdraw its troops from parts of Judea and Samaria prior to the forthcoming Palestinian Arab elections.
Kurtzers action follows other recent reports of U.S. pressure on Israel. On July 9, presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer said that President Bush telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to press his call for Israel to reciprocate for recent Palestinian reform efforts. (Washington Post, July 10, 2002) On July 11, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, met with Sharon to urge him to create an atmosphere in which Palestinian reform could proceed. (New York Times, July 12, 2002) The Bush administration also publicly criticized Israel for closing down the illegal Jerusalem office of PA official Sari Nusseibeh and for eliminating Hamas mass-murderer Salah Shehade.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: Pressuring Israel for more concessions, at a time when the Palestinian Arabs have not fulfilled any of the conditions set by President Bushs June 24 speech, rewards terrorismit sends a message to the Palestinian Arabs that their continued terrorism against Israel will result in more American pressure on Israel.
The ZOA president added: There can never be hope for peace without a genuine transformation in the hearts and minds of the Palestinian Arabs. In his speech, President Bush outlined some of the steps that they must takethey must engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure; end incitement to violence in official media and publicly denounce homicide bombings; and rid themselves of officials involved in terrorism or corruption. The administration should be pressuring the Palestinian Arabs to change their ways, not pressuring Israel to make even more one-sided concessions that the Palestinian Arabs do not deserve.
For a free copy of the ZOAs new report on Palestinian Arab violations of the Bush plan, titled One Month Since the Bush Middle East Speech, please call the ZOA at 212-481-1500.