The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) today criticized President Bush for explicitly stating at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday, April 11, 2005, that there must be no “Israeli expansion of settlements.” Nonetheless, President Bush made no demand that the Palestinians must end their illegal construction in Judea & Samaria — even though they are building at over 10 times the rate of Jewish residents of those areas. President Bush made this demand even though Israeli building in the territories are within the boundaries of the settlement and does not expand any such boundary.
All though it was previously believed that President Bush had committed his support to Israel’s retaining large settlement blocs such as Maaleh Adumim, Efrat, Ariel and such areas, he now says that “any final status agreement will be achieved only on the basis of mutually agreed changes.” Bush added that “major Israeli population centers” must only “be taken into account in any final status negotiations.” Bush is no longer, if he ever was, unequivocally supporting Israel’s retaining these large population areas.
At the Press Conference, PM Sharon differed with Bush by arguing that “these major Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria will be part of the state of Israel.”
This Washington pressure on Israel comes despite the fact that the Bush Administration in the past pledged not to pressure Israel. On May 21, 2000, Bush said, “In recent times, Washington has tried to make Israel conform to its own plans and timetables, but this is not the path to peace.” In August 2000, Condoleezza Rice said, “Bush believes the US cannot force its foreign policy on other states and that it is up to Israel to determine what risks it takes to reach peace.” Colin Powell said at the 2001 AIPAC Policy Conference, “We will propose solutions, we will never impose solutions.”
Even more troubling was hearing the President repeating the same worn-out demands of the Arabs, without proclaiming consequences if they are not fulfilled. Since the two-year-old Road Map was initiated, the Palestinian Arabs have not dismantled or disarmed the terrorist groups, arrested the terrorists, ended all the incitement to hatred and murder of Jews, closed the bomb factories, or changed the names of the schools and the sports teams named after Palestinian Arab suicide bombers.
Instead the Palestinian Authority (PA) has hired 350 Hamas terrorists into its police force, blamed the Israeli occupation on suicide murders, and smuggled in thousands of missiles, mortars, and other artillery into Gaza. President Bush’s response to all this was quadrupling the amount of aid to the PA, calling for a Palestinian state at every opportunity, and saying the majority of Palestinians want peace when every poll shows a majority supports suicide bombings of Israelis.
ZOA President Morton A. Klein said, “It is disappointing that President Bush only pressures Israel while proclaiming confidence in Abbas as a peacemaker even though Abbas has fulfilled none of his Road Map obligations, demands the refugee issue remain on the table, blames Israeli actions for terrorism, refuses to call Israel a Jewish state, praises Hamas and brings them into his government and police force, and calls Sefat, Israel part of his country.
“The Road Map also requires that “‘Arab states cut off public and private funding and all other forms of support for groups supporting and engaging in violence and terror.'” Although the Arabs have not fulfilled this obligation, the US has essentially ignored it.
“This Road Map also repeats the fundamental flaw in the Oslo accords, requiring Israel to make concrete concessions in exchange for unverifiable promises. Mortimer Zuckerman, past Chairman of the Conference of Presidents had said the Road Map is filled with “pitfalls.” The ADL said at the time of the Road Map’s release that ‘the Road Map states that progress is dependent on the “‘consensus judgment of Quartet, and taking into account actions of both parties and Quartet monitoring'” if this is indeed a “‘consensus'” process, history demonstrates that three-quarters of the Quartet – the U.N., E.U. and Russia – are far more vigorous in highlighting Israeli violations than Palestinian infringements. There is a concern that these entities and states may justify or underplay Palestinian violations of their obligations and in turn pressure Israel to implement steps, such as redeployment from territories.
“‘The Road Map text implies equivalency between Israel and the Palestinians in areas of violence and incitement Th[e] text implies that Israeli defensive military action against terrorists is equivalent to Palestinian acts of terrorism against civilians. Moreover, while there is much documented on Palestinian anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement, there is no evidence of Israeli incitement being a problem.
“‘The Road Map text implies that ending the “Israeli occupation’ of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (assuming Palestinian terrorism is under control) is the key to Israeli-Palestinian peace. This conceptual approach is simplistic and flawed. Ignored is the reality that since 1948 the conflict has been about the Arab and Palestinian refusal to truly accept Israel’s right to exist in focusing primarily on ending the “occupation” as a measure of ending the conflict, and not paying attention to ultimate Palestinian goals and intentions, there is a risk of Israel giving up the tangible (land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) for the intangible (assurances of intentions to live alongside Israel in peace), which may be insincere and hollow.'”
“We, at the ZOA, urge President Bush to stop pressuring Israel to stop building Jewish homes in their ancient Jewish homeland. Instead he should pressure Abbas to take serious actions toward peace immediately or face the consequences of losing US aid to the Palestinians if they don’t fulfill their 11 year old Oslo and Road Map commitment to end terror and incitement. We must be careful to wage the international war against terror in the most effective way possible. We must also remember that history has taught us that Winston Churchill was right when he said that “‘those who appease the crocodile will simply be eaten last.'”