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

May 23, 2003

Wishful thinking Times?

According to the New York Times:
Mr. Sharon has told the Bush administration that he cannot take several of the steps the Americans want, particularly on endorsing the plan, without provoking a cabinet crisis. Many cabinet members are conservative opponents of anything that would create a Palestinian state.

A diplomat knowledgeable about the negotiations said some in the Bush administration think that it would be better for Mr. Sharon's cabinet to break apart so that he could then form a unity government with the Labor Party.
Of course the Times doesn't report if those hoping for a national unity government are senior officials or simply State Department professionals who consider the road map to be progress. However the Washington Post gave a slightly different view of things...
In an effort to avoid a deadlock in the Middle East peace process, the Bush administration has acceded to Israel's demands that a U.S.-backed peace plan be subjected to significant revisions as it is implemented, a move that quickly brought a public acceptance of the plan's broad outlines by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In winning Sharon's support, the administration relented on its insistence of no changes in the peace plan, known as the "road map." The White House issued a statement today by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice saying the United States recognizes Israel's concerns and will seek to address them.

"The roadmap was presented to the Government of Israel with a request from the President that it respond with contributions to this document to advance true peace," Powell and Rice said. "The United States Government received a response from the Government of Israel, explaining its significant concerns about the roadmap.
Whereas the NY Times has it that the administration - or unnamed officials - wish to see a more pliant Israeli government; the Washington Post reports that the admistration is willing to consider the Sharon government's objections in order to keep the road map. I realize that these two views are not necessarily incompatible. But the emphasis of the Times article is telling.

Maybe I'm not being generous to the Times, accounts of the cabinet decision have Sharon saying that it was necessary to accept the road map in order to avoid friction with Washington.
Cross posted on the IsraPundit and David's Israel Blog