New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is deeply disappointed by President Bush’s strong and sometimes troubling public demands of Israel while he praised Holocaust Denier Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and made no real public demands of the PA.
In a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House yesterday with Mahmoud Abbas, President Bush said that “Israel must work with the Palestinian leadership to improve the daily lives of Palestinians, especially their humanitarian situation. Israel should not undertake any activity that contravenes the Road Map obligations or prejudice final status negotiations with regard to Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem. Therefore, Israel must remove unauthorized outposts and stop settlement expansion. The barrier being erected by Israel as a part of its security effort must be a security, rather than political, barrier. And its route should take into account, consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.
As we make progress toward security, and in accordance with the Road Map, Israeli forces should withdraw to their positions on September the 28th, 2000. Any final status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the 1949 Armistice lines must be mutually agreed to. A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity of the West Bank, and a state of scattered territories will not work. There must also be meaningful linkages between the West Bank and Gaza. This is the position of the United States today, it will be the position of the United States at the time of final status negotiations.”
Despite the fact that President Bush did not praise Israel, even for their evacuation of the Jewish section of Gaza and the Northern Shomron (West Bank) and for Israel’s forced removal of 10,000 Jewish men, women, and children from these areas, he did have strong words of praise for Mahmoud Abbas. President Bush opened his remarks by saying, “It is my honor to welcome the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people to the White House President Abbas is seeking the goal of a Palestinian State by rejecting violence and working for democratic reform. I believe the Palestinian people are fully capable of justly governing themselves, in peace with their neighbors President Abbas’s election four months ago was an inspiration to the people across the region. Palestinians voted against violence, and for sovereignty The United States and the international community applaud your rejection of terrorism
We will stand with you, Mr. President, as you combat corruption, reform the Palestinian security services and your justice system, and revive your economy. Mr. President, you have made a new start on a difficult journey, requiring courage and leadership each day — and we will take that journey together The United States also strongly supports the mission of the Quartet’s special envoy, Jim Wolfensohn, to make sure that the Gaza disengagement brings Palestinians a better life The United States will provide to the Palestinian Authority $50 million to be used for new housing and infrastructure projects in the Gaza ”
After Bush’s remarks, Abbas condemned Israel while giving no credit to Israel for leaving Gaza and the Northern West Bank. Abbas said, “We stress that democracy cannot flourish under occupation and in the absence of freedom We expressed our deep concern over the continuous Israeli settlement activities and the construction of the wall on our land, particularly in the area of Jerusalem. These settlement activities, in addition to undermining President Bush’s vision in establishing a Palestinian and contiguous state, it also contributes to the feeling of frustration and despair and the loss of hope.
Stopping this is one of the requirements of the Road Map We see this evacuation as a part of ending the occupation, and it should not be at the expense of the West Bank. We must then immediately move to permanent status negotiations to deal with the issues of Al-Quds, East Jerusalem as a capital fo the future state of Palestine, the issues of refugees, settlements, borders, security, and water, on the basis of U.N. resolutions, and the basis of the Arab initiative It is time for our people, after many decades of suffering and dispossessions, to enjoy living in freedom and independence on their own land. And we should accelerate the freedom of our prisoners in order to be a part of peace making We are talking about a Palestinian state within the boundaries of 1967 The wall — there is no justification for the wall, and it is illegitimate, as well as settlements, it is illegitimate and should not be allowed ”
Abbas later met with Jewish leaders where he defended the terrorist group Hamas, which calls for Israel’s destruction and the murder of all Jews. Abbas said, “Hamas has moved a lot from its previous position in accepting the quiet, and moving toward accepting of the legitimacy of elections.”
ZOA President Morton A. Klein remarked, “It is deeply disappointing to see President Bush, who many say is ‘the best friend Israel ever had,’ publicly and in almost a hostile fashion, demanded that Israel take certain actions and not take others in order to follow the Road Map. For example, Bush chastised Israel for ‘settlement expansion’. But Israel has only cautiously built within existing settlements. They have not expanded beyond the boundaries of a settlement and they have not built any new settlements.
“President Bush publicly talked about a contiguous Palestinian Arab State including contiguity between the West Bank and Gaza. But, if there is contiguity between the West Bank and Gaza, then Israel will not be a contiguous state — in fact, it will then be cut in two. Why is the President only concerned about the Arabs contiguity, which will then harm Israel’s security?
“Bush mentioned that any changes to 1949 armistice line must be approved by the Palestinian Arabs. He thereby negated the apparent support he recently gave for the ‘major population blocks’ to remain in Israel’s hands — for they are beyond the 1949 line.
“Bush publicly demanded that Israel not build in Jerusalem (maybe he meant eastern Jerusalem). He also made some references to his concerns about the security fence. For G-d sakes, can’t we Jews defend ourselves from Arab suicide bombers. If there was no terror, there would be no fence. Terror built the fence.
“President Bush also never mentioned that there were 14 clauses which the Israeli Cabinet inserted into the Road Map document before finally accepting it.
Klein asked, “Should the ‘best friend’ of Israel not praise Israel for anything in this forum and not criticize the Palestinian Authority for anything.
“Why didn’t Bush mention that the PA has not fulfilled any of their obligations under the Road Map. They haven’t dismantled and disarmed the terror groups, ended incitement to hatred and murder of Jews, arrested the terrorists, or stopped the smuggling of weapons and missiles from Egypt into Gaza. And when Abbas demanded a resolution of the ‘refugee’ issue, why didn’t Bush demand it be resolved within Palestinian areas and not Israel as he stated last month?
“Only three days ago, Abbas participated in a rally calling the establishment of Israel a catastrophe. Why was President Bush silent on these and other anti-peace, pro-terror actions by the PA?”