ZOA Critical Of Bush Statements On Israeli “Occupation,” Arab Refugees & Praising So-Called Arab League Peace Initiative
January 14, 2008

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized statements made by President George W. Bush in his speech in Jerusalem late last week during his tour of the Middle East in which he called for Israel to end the occupation that began in 1967 rather than the conditions of Arab rejection and violence which produced it; reiterated his praise for the 2002 so-called Arab League Peace Initiative which seeks massive concessions from Israel in return only for ambiguous Arab statements that it will then accept Israel; and lauds the PA leadership of Mahmoud Abbas as peace-loving and moderate when it is in fact neither. President Bush also urges huge Israeli concessions to Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) despite the continuing non-fulfillment of Palestinian Arab commitments under the signed Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan, including the failure to jail terrorists, confiscate their illegal weapons, and to end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terror ( President Bush Discusses Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, King David Hotel , Jerusalem, January 10, 2008). The ZOA is also troubled by additional statements made by President Bush the same day in his joint press conference in Ramallah with Abbas ( President Bush and Palestinian Authority President Abbas Participate in Joint Press Availability , Muqata, Ramallah, January 10, 2008).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, ZOA Center for Middle East Policy Director Dr. Daniel Mandel and Daniel Pollak and Josh London of the ZOA Department of Government Relations have provided the following in-depth analysis of Bush’s remarks (all from his Jerusalem statement, unless otherwise indicated):

  • “There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967” : This statement ignores the fact that the territory in question is unallocated territory under international law and did not belong to the unlawful occupiers, Jordan and Egypt, from whom Israel captured Judea /Samaria and Gaza respectively in a war of self-defense. Only two Jordanian allies, Britain and Pakistan, recognized Jordan’s unlawful annexation of Judea and Samaria and even Jordan officially rescinded its claim to the territory in 1988. Moreover, religiously, legally and historically, Israel has a better claim to the territory in question on the basis of past Jewish history and connection to the land and the League of Nations mandate which designated this territory for the development of a Jewish National Home. Therefore, no unlawful Israel occupation has ever existed. Consequently, this statement by President Bush (which echoes earlier ones by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) points to one of the major shortcomings in the policy of this Administration towards the Arab war on Israel: it has accepted the false and misleading Arab claim that the issue is Israeli occupation of Palestinians. Consequently, the Bush Administration’s emphasis is on ending Israeli control, whereas the emphasis should be on ending the conditions that gave rise to Israeli conquest in the first place and which remain operative — Arab refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state; Arab support for terrorism against Israeli civilians; Arab demonization of Jews, Judaism and Israel. It is these which created and fuel the conflict and which led to major wars in 1948, 1956 and 1967 — not Israeli control of these territories, which were then firmly under Arab control. Moreover, there is presently virtually no Israeli control of these territories, as all of Gaza and half of Judea and Samaria, along with 95% of the Palestinian Arab inhabitants of these territories, have been transferred to the control of the PA.


  • I reiterate my appreciation for the Arab League peace initiative” : By once again welcoming the 2002 so-called Arab League Peace Initiative, President Bush is continuing to depart from long-standing American support for 1967 United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 242 as the framework for peace-making. UNSC 242 calls only for “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” not “full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories” as demanded by the Arab Initiative, including from non-existent “remaining occupied territories” in Lebanon. Embracing the Arab initiative thus represents a serious erosion of American support for Israel’s legitimate interests as expressed in UNSC 242, which was previously upheld by every administration, whether Republican or Democrat. This initiative also demands the so-called ‘right of return’ which would inundate Israel with tens of thousands of Palestinian Arab refugees of the 1948-49 war and their millions of descendents, thereby putting an end to Israel’s continued existence as Jewish state, which President Bush has pledged on this occasion and on others to uphold. Furthermore, this Plan demands irreversible Israeli concessions before the Arab states will even consider taking steps to end hostilities with Israel.

  • “I share with these two leaders [Olmert and Abbas] the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Both of these leaders believe that the outcome is in the interest of their peoples and are determined to arrive at a negotiated solution to achieve it”: As the ZOA has noted on numerous occasions, the Bush Administration has persistently and wrongly credited Mahmoud Abbas, his Fatah-controlled PA and the majority of the Palestinian Arab population with a simply non-existent moderation, interest in peace-making and a detestation of terrorism. Abbas has told Arab audiences in Arabic that “it is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or of the Popular Front to recognize Israel” (Al-Arabiya [Dubai] and PA TV, October 3, 2006); that Palestinian Arabs have a “legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation … Our rifles, all our rifles are aimed at The Occupation” ( Jerusalem Post, January 11, 2007; Independent Media & Review Analysis, January 12, 2007); that “The sons of Israel are corrupting humanity on earth” ( World Net Daily, January 11, 2007); that Israel is “the Zionist enemy” (Associated Press, January 4, 2005; CNN.com , January 7, 2005); that wanted Palestinian terrorists are “heroes fighting for freedom” ( Age [Melbourne], January 3, 2005); that jailed Palestinian terrorists as “our heroes.” (Israel National News, May 26, 2006), and that “Israel calls them murderers, we call them strugglers” ( Jerusalem Post, December 25, 2004). Additionally, he has described Palestinian terrorist leaders Yasser Arafat, Hamas’ Ahmad Yasin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Fathi Shikaki as “martyrs” ( Palestinian Media Center , September 9, 2005); declared that “We must unite the Hamas and Fatah blood in the struggle against Israel as we did at the beginning of the intifada. We want a political partnership with Hamas” ( Jerusalem Post, February 5, 2007), insisted that “It is our duty to implement the principles of Yasser Arafat” ( Haaretz, January 3, 2005) and that “The Palestinian leadership won’t stray from Arafat’s path” ( Yediot Ahronot, November 11, 2006). He has also refused to disarm Palestinian terrorists, calling that a “red line” that must not be crossed (Washington Times, January 3, 2005). He has also declared of the legally and morally baseless so-called Palestinian ‘right of return’ that “The issue of the refugees is non-negotiable” (Jerusalem Post, January 11, 2007). In addition to having written a PhD thesis and published a book denying the Holocaust, co-founding with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat the terrorist group Fatah, whose Constitution to this day calls for the destruction of Israel (Article 12) and the use of terrorism against Israelis as an indispensable part of the struggle to achieve that goal (Article 19), he has refused to implement the signed Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan which requires him to fight, arrest, extradite and jail terrorists and confiscate their weaponry and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terror. In May 2006, he endorsed the so-called ‘Prisoners’ Plan’, a document produced by jailed Palestinian terrorists, that endorses continued terrorism against Israel, legitimizes the murder of Jews, does not accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, abrogates Palestinian obligations under the signed Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan, and insists on the ‘right of return.’ In December 2005, he approved legislation mandating financial benefits to be paid to families of killed Palestinian terrorists while in March 2007, he formed a unity government with Hamas under the Mecca Agreement that called for more violence, not peace and reconciliation with Israel. Only in the last week, in celebration of Fatah’s 43rd anniversary, Fatah produced a new map of the region which showed Israel in Fatah colors labeled ‘Palestine’ alongside a photo of Yasser Arafat. This record gives, much of it from the period of Abbas seeking election as PA president, totally undermines the President’s claim in his Ramallah press conference that, ” President Abbas was elected on a platform of peace. In other words, he just wasn’t somebody who starts talking about it lately, he campaigned on it.”

  • “Both sides need to fulfill their commitments under the road map.”: This statement asserts a false equivalence in the efforts of the two parties to comply with their road map commitments whereas, in fact, Israel has regularly complied with its Oslo and Roadmap obligations while the PA has shown no interest in fulfilling any of its commitments under any of the previously signed peace agreements, including those commitments that are under the PA’s complete control to fulfill, such as ending the incitement of hatred and murder in official PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps, arresting terrorists, confiscating illegal weapons and outlawing terrorist groups.

  • “The Palestinians need to build their economy and their political and security institutions. And to do that, they need the help of Israel, the region, and the international community” : By trying to induce moderation from the PA by rewarding it, instead of demanding the implementation of agreements and reforms before offering any rewards and concessions, the Bush Administration is only reinforcing the PA’s resistance to moderation and peace-making. Why would Abbas and Fatah fulfill any agreements or make any genuine moves towards peace if they have had it proved to them, time and again over 14 years, that they will receive praise, support and funds from America without fulfilling a single one of their obligations under signed agreements? This effort to promote further international handouts to subsidize continued PA mismanagement and corruption shows that President Bush is failing to learn from past mistakes. The Palestinian Arabs are already the largest per capita recipients of international aid and have been the recipients of more financial assistance from the international community than virtually any other single political entity in recorded history, yet such largess has not produced healthy civil society or good governance institutions. A 2005 Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report noted, for example, that ” U.S. economic aid to the Palestinians has averaged about $85 million per year since 1993,” while a 2006 CRS Report indicates that the PA received a record $1.5 billion in total foreign assistance in 2006. By promising additional and ongoing support independent of verified compliance, President Bush is repeating the terrible mistake made by both Israel and the U.S. when they falsely stated that Yasser Arafat was a moderate peacemaker, and on that false premise made concessions to his Fatah regime which resulted in a surge of terrorism, the loss of thousands of innocent lives, and placed Israel in greater danger. Much of these funds have been stolen by PA leaders and much has also been used to purchase weapons.

  • “These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent. It is vital that each side understands that satisfying the other’s fundamental objectives is key to a successful agreement. Security for Israel and viability for the Palestinian state are in the mutual interests of both parties” : Even if the Fatah/PA was truly a peace-loving moderate regime, which it is not, no discussion of a Palestinian state is warranted given that Gaza, with over a million Palestinian Arabs is under Hamas control, while Judea and Samaria is only tenuously under Fatah’s control. A Palestinian state on Israel’s border is not in Israel’s best interest. Under current conditions, a new Palestinian state would be a threat to Israel’s survival from the day it is established. It would be inherently unstable, inherently Jihadist, and inherently hostile to American interests in the region. Even if its founders agree for tactical reasons to keep it demilitarized, that limitation on sovereignty will be problematic, especially since the PA possesses an army in all but name, including tens of thousands of men under arms. Iranian and fundamentalist domination of that state will always be a threat as long as Hamas exists. The extension of Iranian influence to a client state Palestinian state could well serve as a spark to ignite war in the entire region. President Bush has clearly failed to understand, or at any rate to acknowledge, that the fundamental objective of the PA is to destroy Israel, not live peaceably alongside it. This is why the PA cannot even bring itself to end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. Fatah recently distributed a poster of a map that depicts all of Israel as Muslim Arab Palestine, with no recognition whatsoever of the Jewish State. While the Palestinian Authority announces in English its demand for a two-state solution, to its own people in Arabic it continues to define all of Israel as “Palestine,” and to promise Israel’s destruction. The Arab war on Israel is not about borders or the creation or promotion of a Palestinian state, which Palestinians have been repeatedly offered yet explicitly rejected every time one was proposed — by the Peel Royal Commission in 1937, by the UN General Assembly in 1947, or by President Clinton in 2000. The Palestinian choice has consistently been to prefer Israel’s destruction over any solution encompassing Palestinian statehood that includes the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state. Following the Annapolis meeting, for example, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad said: “Israel can define itself as it likes, but the Palestinians will not recognize it as a Jewish state.”

  • “I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous” : By insisting that any and all border adjustments must be “mutually agreed upon” during negotiations, President Bush is nullifying his April 2004 written commitment to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that Israel should retain at least all the areas with major Jewish populations in Judea and Samaria. As President Bush wrote in that letter, “The United States appreciates the risks leaving Gaza represents. I therefore want to reassure you … In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949…” Moreover, creating a contiguous Palestinian state would require, among other things, cutting Israel in two in order to create a passage between Gaza and Judea/Samaria.

  • “I believe we need to look to the establishment of a Palestinian state and new international mechanisms, including compensation, to resolve the refugee issue” : It is only the descendants of Palestinian refugees who are considered refugees, something that has not occurred in respect of any other refugee population in the world. While President Bush provided an indication of his preferred method of dealing with the issue of Palestinian refugees, he failed to make it clear that the U.S. rejects the ‘right of return.’ In any event, the flight of Palestinians in 1948-49 was the direct result of the Palestinians own decision to wage war on Israel. There would have been no refugees from the region if Arab countries had refrained from invasion and chosen peace. As Abba Eban said at the time, “Once you determine the responsibility for that war, you have determined the responsibility for the refugee problem.” Moreover, the ‘right of return’ is incompatible with Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state. Also, President Bush again failed to even mention the corresponding flood of Jewish refugees created at the same time by Arab violence against Jews in Arab lands. This failure can only lead to a lack of balance in the negotiations over compensation for the non-Arab refugees.

  • “Neither party should undertake any activity that contravenes road map obligations or prejudices the final status negotiations. On the Israeli side that includes ending settlement expansion and removing unauthorized outposts. On the Palestinian side that includes confronting terrorists and dismantling terrorist infrastructure” : President Bush’s ominously vague call for the PA to “confront” terrorists is a marked deviation from and weakening of the Palestinian obligation to disarm, arrest and jail terrorists and outlaw terrorist groups, as required in the Oslo agreements. While President Bush at least referred to Palestinian road map obligations to deal with terrorists, he neglected to mention Palestinian obligations to end incitement to murder, hatred and violence in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. Palestinian clerics continue to condemn Jews as “the sons of monkeys and pigs” or as being akin to the AIDS virus; Palestinian TV continues to glorify suicide attacks on Israelis; in April 2007 the acting parliamentary speaker called for the murder of Americans and Jews; streets, schools and colleges have been named in honor of suicide bombers; armed terrorists operate openly in public and wanted terrorists have been shielded in the PA presidential compound. The PA has not even attempted any demonstrable, sustained, or meaningful effort to end such incitement or retard this terrorism saturated, blood-stained culture. Moreover, it is deeply concerning that President Bush implies that Israeli construction of homes in Jewish communities beyond the green line, something Israel never pledged to desist from doing in any of the Oslo agreements, is in some way comparable to Palestinian terrorism and incitement or an obstacle to peace.

  • “I know Jerusalem is a tough issue. Both sides have deeply felt political and religious concerns” : Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the heart of Jewish state and of the Jewish people. Further, it was established as such more than three thousand years ago and remains the focus of Jewish prayer, unity and aspirations for millennia. It has never served as the capital of any other nation, Arab or otherwise. Only once Jerusalem was liberated, unified, and brought under Israeli sovereignty and security, have people of all faiths been allowed freely and securely to visit and worship at their holy sites. Jerusalem is mentioned over 600 times in the Bible, but not even once in the Quran. During the period 1948-67, when the eastern half of the city, with its religious shrines, was under Jordanian control, no Arab ruler other than Jordanian King Hussein visited it. Also, under Jordanian rule, thousands of Jewish gravestones were desecrated and used to make Jordanian army latrines while all the synagogues in the city were deliberately destroyed. Jerusalem became a backwater under Jordanian rule, which maintained its capital in Amman. President Bush’s elevation of Palestinian claims to the city to a level of parity with Jewish claims shows little understanding of history or present conditions.

  • “The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue. The Palestinian people deserve it. And it will enhance the stability of the region, and it will contribute to the security of the people of Israel” : In fact, the Palestinian people’s repeated and ongoing rejection of peace and support for terrorism is the primary cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict and is scarcely confined to an extremist fringe in Palestinian society as Bush has often contended. An October 2006 poll showed that two-thirds of Palestinians supported Hamas’ refusal to recognize Israel. According to recent polling data compiled by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), over 70% believe armed attacks against Israel will continue while the “negotiations” following Annapolis are in progress. And less than half of the respondents, (49%), stated they would be willing to recognize the Jewish state following negotiations that resulted in a Palestinian state. This means that even with a capital in Jerusalem and a “right of return,” most Palestinians would still have a problem with the existence of Israel. This record strongly repudiates President Bush’s comment in Ramallah that “He [ Abbas] knows that a handful of people want to dash the aspirations of the Palestinian people by creating chaos and violence.” A people that has rejected statehood in favor of continued war, voted into power a genocidally-inclined movement like Hamas, insisted on mechanisms to subvert Jewish statehood like the ‘right of return’, glorified terrorism and suicide murder and embraced nationalist and religious extremism does not deserve statehood until it abandons the hatred and violence that Germans and Japanese had to repudiate before they again enjoyed statehood and independence. Under current conditions, a Palestinian state would be just another hateful terrorist state. Statehood does not induce moderation — Syria, Iran and North Korea are all states, yet none of these countries are peaceful and moderate. To the contrary, statehood enhances the capacity of such societies to further their irredentist and violent agendas.

  • “Bush also stated in his Ramallah press conference that “my message to the Israelis is that they ought to help, not hinder, the modernization of the Palestinian security force. It’s in their interests that a government dedicated to peace and understanding the need for two states to live side by side in peace have a modern force … And to the extent that Israeli actions have undermined the effectiveness of the Palestinian force, or the authority of the state relative to the average citizen, is something that we don’t agree with and have made our position clear” : Quite apart from the fatuity of speaking of moderate Palestinian leadership, President Bush suggests that Israel share his own heedless confidence in the integrity and reliability of Palestinian security forces, all of which have actually been complicit in terrorism against Israel. Worse, he criticized Israel for failing to empower these security services, all of which detracts from other statements he made at the same press conference about the legitimate need for Israeli security measures, including the roadblocks that inconvenience Palestinians.

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