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

March 01, 2003

A Monumental Mistake

Michael Freund is against the creation of a Palestinian state and says so,
Addressing the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday, Bush spoke of his "personal commitment" to the idea of establishing a Palestinian state, despite Yasser Arafat's 30-month-long campaign of lethal error against Israel.

[...]It would be easy to dismiss the president's remarks as just another attempt to appease Arab public opinion before the start of the impending war with Baghdad. After all, much of the Arab world will be less than thrilled to see U.S. Marines hauling Saddam Hussein off in handcuffs, so Bush likely feels he must offer them some sort of verbal "quid pro quo" to keep them happy.

[...]By resorting to violence and terror on such a grand scale, the Palestinians have singlehandedly undermined any claim they might have had to being worthy of statehood alongside Israel. For Bush to speak out now about granting them independence, at a time when they are engrossed in trying to kill Jews, is remarkably ill-conceived and astonishingly inappropriate. MORE
But Freund fall short in his analysis of the import of the speech. Bush had this to say about the Arab Israeli conflict
For its part, the new government of Israel -- as the terror threat is removed and security improves -- will be expected to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state and to work as quickly as possible toward a final status agreement. As progress is made toward peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end. And the Arab states will be expected to meet their responsibilities to oppose terrorism, to support the emergence of a peaceful and democratic Palestine, and state clearly they will live in peace with Israel.
This paragraph says a lot. First, Bush put off cessation of settlement activity until "progress is made toward peace" which is defined as when "the terror threat is removed and security is improved". The longer the Arabs take to do this, the more settlement activity will take place. Secondly he stresses that all Arab countries must do three things;oppose terrorism, support a peaceful democratic Palestine (including Syria and Iran) and state clearly they will live in peace with Israel. A tall order. A very tall order, indeed.

For those of you who think this will never happen, you can take comfort that there will never be a Palestinian state. For others, if all this happens, why not a Palestinian state.

Freund's position is that the Palestinians don't deserve a state given their past conduct. Bush's position is if they clean up their act, including all Arab states, there will be a Palestinian state. He is not necessarily rewarding terrorism as some would suggest but offering a state as an inducement to change. But no where does he mention what the boundaries will be or what the restrictions will be. Sharon is on record of only favouring a state on 42% of the land. This is area A and B in the Oslo accords and contains about 90% of the Arab population in the territories and Gaza. The separation wall is being built to confiscate a good part of the lands that aren't included. Where the eventual border will be is anybody's guess, but I am hoping it will be closer to Sharon's then Barak's proposal.

But there is one more thing that requires attention. Powell annunciated it a few months ago and Bush reiterated it in this speech that he is talking about a "viable" state. Just what does this mean. The Palestinians have long complained that what Barak offered was not viable with the emphasis on whether the lands were contiguous or the border fairly straight. Joseph Norland, on this site, has pointed out many of the reasons that such a state would not be viable not the least of which was the limited water resources. It may be that such a state even with borders acceptable to the Arabs would not be viable and will always be dependant on international financial support. How then can it be viable according to Bush. Is Israel going to be forced to allow the Arabs to work in Israel in order to make it viable. This appears to me to be an infringement on Israel's sovereignty.

To my mind it is not possible to create such a state and time is better spent on a solution that can work.