Glad to see him go, won’t be eager to have him come back. But there are a few observations to be made regarding his final statements once he left Ramallah and returned here to Jerusalem:
Bush called for "an end to the occupation that began in 1967."
For me, that means he is calling for us, essentially. to move back to the Green Line (which is pretty much the 1949 armistice line).
There is much press here that saw it differently . Because he also said that, "I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities…"
See, goes the argument, he is saying we should keep some settlement blocs. I will argue differently. For his full statements was: "I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous." Don’t be under the impression that I’m condoning retention of settlements, the second part of that sentence is saying.
Besides which, he speaks about "ending the 1967 occupation" — code at minimum for surrender of settlements.
This is my take on what "adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949" means to George Bush here: It means he would argue that we can keep the Jewish neighborhoods of Gilo, and French Hill and Ramat Eshkol and Pisgat Zeev and Neve Yaakov and Ramot — all beyond the armistice line of 1949. And, we should perhaps be allowed to control the Kotel and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. That would be about it.
Do not be fooled , my friends.
Bush made yet one other statement that reflects for me his essential confusion and failure to be in touch with reality. He said Israel has to have "secure and defensible borders."
Well… we cannot move back to the Green Line (even with the retention of Gilo, French Hill, etc.) and have secure and defensible borders. That is a significant point everyone should be aware of. Abba Eban called the ’49 armistice lines the Auschwitz Lines.
In order to be secure we must retain the Jordan Valley, high points in the Jordanian hills and Samaria, settlements guarding entrance roads into Jerusalem (the Gush Etzion bloc protects Jerusalem from the south, for example, and Maaleh Adumim from the east).
Can’t have it both ways: Secure and defensible borders for us and a Palestinian state that is contiguous.
So what’s he doing? Using the code words for what’s important to each side without attempting to reconcile the contradictions?
Or, is he flying so high in the clouds that he imagines that with that flourishing, moderate, democratic state he envisions Palestine will be at our border, we will be safe within the Green Line?
(It’s probably this latter, because he also said: "The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue. The Palestinian people deserve it…," which is just one more indication of his failure to grapple with reality.)
In either case, George Bush is not to be taken seriously . And yet, because of his political power and his ability to do damage, we must take him seriously — or contend with him — at some level.
Bush did something else reprehensible: He meddled in internal Israeli politics. At a dinner at which government ministers were present, he praised Olmert as "a strong political leader" and then, speaking directly with Eli Yishai (Shas) and Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu), who are threatening to leave the coalition, told them, "Take care of Olmert, so he will stay in power."
Satellite photos indicate that Syria is rebuilding the site — presumed, on the basis of the evidence, to have been a nuclear facility — that was bombed by Israel in September. Except for the roof, the structure appears similar to the one that was destroyed, and it is being watched; there is no way to know at this point if it is intended to house a reactor.
Palestinian groups in opposition to Abbas are planning a conference in Damascus at the end of the month. The Palestinian Authority is angry at Damascus for supporting this.
This is an anti-negotiations conference that was originally supposed to take place at the same time as Annapolis. But when Syria received an invitation to Annapolis and decided to attend, it was postponed. Gee, it’s good Syria attended in Annapolis; we can see how it’s moderated since then.