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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 27, 2003

War can promote Mideast peace, Bush says

I have for some time argued with my anti-war friends--they maintain we have no businessi nteferring with a country that has not attcked us--that the Bush strategy is based on re-shaping the Arab world. In this world, we find the money, people, training, resources for supporting anti-West countries. For Israelis, the fact that Saddam funds the families of suicide bombers is sufficient to want his head (and money) cut off. But, further, by locating troops in the middle of the area, we are to send a message that we are in syour backyard and with bases for our troops andplanes. Thus, forewarned , it is now up to you--Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq (this one taken care of), Saudi Arabia, et al that we can reach out to those who side with terror attacks.
WASHINGTON -- President Bush declared Wednesday night that removing Saddam Hussein of Iraq from power would bring stability to the region and could set the stage for peace between Israel and a "truly democratic" Palestinian state.

In his first significant remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in eight months, the president, under pressure from European and Arab nations to re-energize the lapsed peace negotiations, reaffirmed the United States commitment to a Palestinian state and to a three-year timetable outlining the steps for its creation.

But his nationally televised address focused largely on Iraq. Bush denounced Saddam's "torture chambers and poison labs," laid out his expectations for the reconstruction of Iraq and warned the United Nations that it would be greatly diminished if the Security Council did not stand up to Baghdad.

"If the council responds to Iraq's defiance with more excuses and delays, if all its authority proves to be empty, the United Nations will be severely weakened as a source of stability and order," Bush said at a dinner of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based policy research center.

He did not detail specific steps toward a Palestinian state, in a plan known as a "road map," as the Europeans have wanted him to do. He said Israel "will be expected to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state," but he did not give Israel any deadlines for ending the settlement activity. Instead, he said it "must end" as "progress is made toward peace."

Administration officials say Bush is reluctant to take any steps to upset Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, whose cooperation he needs in a war with Iraq. Specifically, the administration has asked Sharon not to retaliate in the case of an Iraqi attack on Israel.

Bush also sought to allay fears that war with Iraq could further destabilize the Middle East and inflame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Overall, his remarks were the latest and most dramatic example of the administration's aggressive public relations strategy to win support in the United States and the rest of the world for a U.S.-led attack on Iraq.[more]