ZOA Criticizes Pres. Bush’s Secretary of State Rice For Opposing More Jews Living In Eastern Jerusalem
June 18, 2008

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for her harsh criticisms of Israel for “undermining” the so-called peace process by constructing housing for Israelis in eastern Jerusalem, thus effectively opposing more Jews living in that half of the city. At the same time, Secretary Rice said almost nothing about continuing terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder within Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas’ regime. Secretary Rice’s remarks on Israeli construction, delivered on different occasions during her current Middle East visit, included the following:


·        “This is simply not helpful to building confidence. And so we’ll have a further discussion of it, but I intend to have a discussion of Roadmap obligations generally, and this is obviously a Roadmap obligation that’s not being met… I think that – look, it’s a problem. And I think it’s a problem that we’re – that I’m going to address with the Israelis.” (‘Remarks to the Traveling Press,’ En route to Tel Aviv, June 14, 2008).

·        “… as you know, our view is the Roadmap obligations are pretty clear on this – on this point … I do think that the key is to work with the Israelis and to make clear to the Israelis that this is a problem. You know, it’s a problem not because of one tender here or one house here … there’s been a certain level of activity that raises questions. And they need to address that (‘Roundtable with Traveling Press,’ Jerusalem, June 15, 2008).

·        “I told the [Israeli] Foreign Minister [Tzipi Livni] that I will also raise the issue of settlements because I’m very concerned that at a time when we need to build confidence between the parties, the continued building and the settlement activity has the potential to harm the negotiations going forward” (‘Remarks With Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni,’ Jerusalem, June 15, 2008).

·        “I did speak with the President, as I spoke earlier this morning with Foreign Minister Livni, with Defense Minister Barak, and will with Prime Minister Olmert later, about the issue of settlement. As I said before, it’s important to have an atmosphere of confidence and trust. And unfortunately, I do believe, and the United States believes, that the actions and the announcements that are taking place are indeed having a negative effect on the atmosphere for negotiation. And that is not what we want. We should be in a position of encouraging confidence, not undermining it. No party should be taking steps at this point that could prejudice the outcome of a negotiation … And I want to make very clear that the United States will not consider these activities to affect any final status negotiations, including final borders. These are to be negotiated between the parties in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. And this is a point that I have made to my Israeli colleagues earlier, and Mr. President, I wanted to reiterate that with you … But it is the view of the United States that we cannot communicate more strongly that it is Israel that has a strong interest in a prevailing atmosphere of confidence with its partners here in the Palestinian territory. It is Israel that will also benefit from the establishment of a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state. And so it is in Israel‘s interest to do everything that it can to promote an atmosphere of confidence. And that is the point that we will make and we will continue to make, and we will make very strongly, because we believe that obligations are to be carried out by both sides. Both sides undertook that they would, in fact, live up to those obligations. And we’ll continue to press the case” (‘Remarks With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,’ Ramallah, June 15, 2008).


In her various statements, Secretary Rice said only the following about Palestinian terrorism and incitement to hatred and violence: “It’s not as if the Palestinians have been just perfect in carrying out their Roadmap obligations either” – but did not elaborate; and “I understand the Israeli concern that this – that the kind of harder core cases not go untouched or unresolved. And we’ll talk some about how the Palestinians see themselves moving on some of the terrorism side, and I do think that there is more that could be done on that side” (‘Roundtable with Traveling Press,’ Jerusalem, June 15, 2008). Despite detailed comments criticizing the building of homes for Israelis as “negative,” there was no reference to any Palestinian acts of incitement, like the fact that Palestinian children have been educated to believe that Israel actually perpetrated the Holocaust and incinerated children in ovens.


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is deeply disappointing that President Bush’s Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, continues in the pattern of stigmatizing the building of Jewish homes and communities within Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, as an obstacle to peace while saying nothing substantive about real obstacles to peace like Palestinian terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps.


“Why can over one million Arabs live among 6 million Jews within Israel‘s pro-1967 borders, while a tiny minority of Jews should not be permitted to live among Palestinian Arabs? The Jews have a political, religious, historical and moral right to live in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem no matter what. To suggest otherwise is discriminatory.


“To regard the construction of homes for Jews as an obstacle to peace shows only that Secretary Rice has swallowed the Palestinian line that settlements are the issue, not their own hatred and determination to eliminate Israel, regardless of its size, borders or any other issue. It also shows an irresponsible moral equivalence between Israeli home construction and Palestinian terrorism and incitement that constitute the real heart of the problem and which explain the absence of peace. Worse, by stating that ‘the United States will not consider these [construction] activities to affect any final status negotiations, including final borders,’ Secretary Rice suggests that she is completely nullifying President Bush’s letter to then-Prime Minister Sharon in 2004, in which the President said that the final settlement would take into account the existence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Yet, the PA is pushing for Israel‘s total withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and Secretary Rice is saying nothing to counter that as she should be doing, consistent with the President’s written assurances.


“Additionally, to simply say, as Secretary Rice does, that the Palestinians haven’t been ‘perfect’ in carrying their 14-year old basic obligations to peace-making is simply a whitewash of the continuing promotion of violence, the cult of suicide terrorism and the indoctrination of Palestinian society with lies and poisonous hatreds. Indeed, Secretary Rice, as so often in the past, lavished further unmerited praise on Mahmoud Abbas for non-existent moderation. Far from being ‘perfect,’ the PA has done nothing to stop terrorism and incitement and the Bush Administration and Secretary Rice have been silent on this failure. When the PA arrested Imad Sa’ad and placed him on death row for assisting Israel in capturing Palestinian terrorists, there was no word of criticism from the White House or State Department.


“Moreover, I do not recall Secretary Rice publicly criticizing Abbas when, for example, his own PA-controlled newspaper, Hayat al Jadida, praised the terrorist who murdered 8 Jews in a Jerusalem seminary in February as a ‘martyr.’ I am sure that if a government-controlled publication in Israel had praised a Jew who had wantonly murdered Palestinians in a mosque, Secretary Rice would have been anything but silent.


“This inconsistency and lack of principle shows that the Bush Administration lacks seriousness about pressuring the PA to create the indispensible conditions for peace and prefers instead to utter harsh and unjustified language about Israeli housing construction. No prospect of peace exists until Palestinians are forced to make a choice between reforming their society and fighting terror or facing international isolation. The present mix of huge inducements, funding and diplomatic support while Abbas does nothing ensures prolongation of the conflict. If President Bush is as upset as we are by Secretary Rice’s words, he should say so publicly.”


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