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Analysis of Bush’s Statement

A day after making some very important statements recognizing that the terror in Israel is the same as the terror elsewhere in the world, President Bush has shown that he is no “one-hit wonder”, by rejecting the so-called PLO Arab “right of return” to Israel more explicitly than ever before.

“It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settling of Palestinian refugees there rather than Israel.”

These words have huge implications, since they deny the PLO Arabs the realization of a “long-standing and diplomatic and strategic weapon aimed at eliminating or neutralizing through demographic means the very existence of the Jewish State of Israel.”

Around the time of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, 800,000 to 1,000,000 Jews were forced out of Arab countries, most of whom went into exile without their possessions. In contrast, the majority of the PLO Arabs who left Israel (less than the number of Jews forced out of Arab countries) did so either in anticipation of a war, at the urging of their own leaders, or to avoid being caught in the crossfire. Yet despite these facts, the PLO Arab refugee issue has been given prominence.

Bush’s statement is of extreme importance, since it in effect sends the message to the PLO Arabs that the US is committed to Israel as a Jewish state, and will not allow this to change through military or demographic means. This committment to preserving Israel’s Jewish character is enshrined in the following statement by Bush:

The United States is strongly committed and I am strongly committed to the security of Israel as a vibrant Jewish state.

And in case you missed it, he repeated something similiar later on in his speech:

The United States is strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state.

In other groundbreaking statements, President Bush adopted Israel’s view that it should be allowed to retain control of some settlements in a final deal.

In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.

This marks a significant departure from the standard US view that the final borders of a PLO Arab state should be decided by the parties. However, Ze’ev Schiff of Ha’aretz argues that this statement can work both ways.

The settlement blocs are part of the new reality, but we must not forget that this reality has another side to it: the growth of Palestinian Jerusalem and the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have settled in the Jerusalem area and neighborhoods. The demographic change started on the Palestinian side, with a high birth rate and widespread poverty that serves as fertile ground for terror groups.

One shouldn’t expect that Ma’aleh Adumim will be recognized as part of Israel because there has been a change in the reality on the ground, while the Palestinian neighborhoods in the Jerusalem area that have expanded will be part of the state of Israel. The meaning of the new reality on the ground in the area of Jerusalem cannot be that the whole of the city will be Israeli.

I welcome Bush’s statements, although one cannot discount the fact that they were probably meant to boost Prime Minister Sharon’s domestic standing, and enable him to win approval for his Gaza disengagement plan. I will be more impressed when President Bush acts on his promise to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and abstains from condemning Israel next time we kill a terrorist leader.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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