NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is requesting clarification of the apparent contradiction between President Bushs latest call for Israel to return to the indefensible 1967 borders, and the promise he made to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon less than two months ago that Israel would not be expected to return to those borders.
In his remarks at the United States Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony on June 2, 2004, President Bush described his Road Map plan as the most reliable guide to ending the occupation that began in 1967.
But in his April 16 meeting with Prime Minister Sharon, at the White House, President Bush said that it is unrealistic to expect a full and complete return by Israel to the pre-1967 borders.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: We respectfully request that President Bush clarify the apparent contradiction between his latest statement and his promises to Sharon. We hope that the administration has not returned to the old State Department position of demanding that Israel retreat to the indefensible 1967 borders, leaving Israel just nine miles wide at its vulnerable mid-section which is why Abba Eban described those borders as Auschwitz lines.
The ZOA notes that there have been additional indications that the Bush administration has backtracked on the promises to Sharon, including the May 3 Quartet statement that Israel must end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; the May 6 statement by President Bush, after meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II, that the U.S. would not take any positions that would prejudice negotiations over the borders; and President Bushs May 17 speech to AIPAC, in which he conspicuously failed to reiterate the promises he made to Prime Minister Sharon even though he was speaking to a pro-Israel audience that would have appreciated such a statement.
The ZOA points out that the claim that there is still an Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Arabs is a myth. Those parts of Judea-Samaria-Gaza where 98.5% of the Palestinian Arabs reside are under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, not Israel. The Israelis withdrew from those areas during 1994-1997. The PA currently rules more than 80% of the Gaza Strip and more than 40% of the Judea-Samaria territories. Those parts of Judea-Samaria that Israel still controls should be characterized as disputed, not occupied. No other country has a valid legal claim to the area, and even Jordan, which illegally occupied it from 1949-1967, publicly relinquished its claim in a speech by King Hussein back in 1988. Moreover, Israels legal, historical, and religious claim to those areas is far stronger than the claims of the Palestinian Arabs or any other party.