April 19, 2004
Any lingering illusion that the United States would play the role of honest broker in the Middle East has now been shattered.
George W. Bush's embrace of Ariel Sharon's unilateral plan to maintain large settlements in the West Bank spells doom for any peace settlement in the medium future. So, too, does Bush's repudiation of the Palestinian right of return.
Out went the "road map."
Out went three decades of U.S. policy.
Out went five U.N. Security Council Resolutions, which require Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
As justification, Bush blithely referred to "new realities on the ground," which simply bestowed approval on Israel's illegal land grab and settlement policy.
The symbolism of Bush's appearance with Sharon could not have been lost on the Arab people. Coming just a day after Bush vowed to give his commanders the power to use "decisive force" in Iraq, Bush didn't even bother to invite a Palestinian into the discussion. Instead, he and Sharon stood at the White House alone, in front of the American flag and the Israeli flag. Many in the Arab world could be forgiven for concluding: It's America and Israel against us.
If Bush had wanted to, he could not have found two more counterproductive and incendiary policies to pursue post-9/11 than to wage war against Iraq and to slow dance with Sharon. For some bizarre reason, Bush continues to play out the role that Osama bin Laden has scripted for him.
For his part, John Kerry cravenly offered no better. Appearing on Meet the Press, he said he was four-square behind the Bush-Sharon policy. And he even gave his blessing to the Israeli assassination of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.
Kerry, Bush, and Sharon are consigning Palestinians to another generation of subjugation. But in the long term, this trio is endangering the very security of the state of Israel, and all the while, they are fueling terrorism not only against Israelis but against Americans as well.