Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

American Educational Trust

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

American Educational Trust

Article excerpt

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As We Awaited...

President George W. Bush's announcement of his Middle East peace plan, we were hopeful that the rational members of his administration-symbolized by Secretary of State Colin Powell-finally would succeed in convincing the American leader that the interests of our country, the region, and, indeed, the world lay in an expeditious and just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We even had a cover ready, of Palestinian teenagers Kayan Al Saify and Sanabel Al Fararja (wearing headbands), who live in Bethlehem's Dheisheh Refugee Camp and were featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary "Promises," at an April demonstration in San Francisco. (See their inspiring story on p. 79 of this issue.)

Bush's June 24 Speech...

Instead caused us, along with the rest of the world (except, as usual, for Israel), to feel disappointment in the outcome, confusion as to the presidential thought process-or lack of same-and, as Americans, embarrassment. Even the Israelis were taken aback by the degree to which the leader of the free world failed to ask any concession of the Jewish state which for 35 years has flouted U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, upon which the peace process allegedly is "based." Some Israeli officials, in fact, noted that it could have been written by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Instead, according to The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, it appears to have been...

Written by Natan Sharansky.

"By coincidence-or something more," wrote Milbank in the July 2 Post, many of the president's ideas echoed those of the former Soviet dissident and Israel's current right-wing housing minister and deputy prime minister as presented in a May 3 Jerusalem Post article. According to Milbank, Sharansky called for "new leadership," a "three-year transition period," a U.S.-headed "international coordinating body," and a "free and open" Palestinian society to "serve as a solid guarantee for normal relations between the two peoples." White House speechwriting director Michael Gerson did not return Milbank's calls about the similarities between the two plans. Given that office's responsibility for Bush's "axis of evil" State of the Union speech, however, we wonder for which government that office actually is writing.

Thus Given the Green Light..

Israeli troops and tanks lost no time in re-occupying all but one of the major Palestinian West Bank cities, imposing full curfews, arresting boys and men, and wantonly--or perhaps not (see below-looting. Sharon's vow to stay as long as necessary went unchallenged by Washington. Meanwhile, illegal West Bank settlements continue to expand and new hilltop outposts to be built---44 since Ariel Sharon took office in February 2001, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. Shockingly, a June B'Tselem survey of the amount of land seized for settlement calculated that settiers now control...

Almost Half of the West Bank.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin BenEliezer announced at the end of June that settlers must dismantle 20 of the most recent illegal outposts, or the army would do so forcibly-but for a very sensible reason. Protecting the settlements, Ben-Eliezer explained, is overstretching...

Israel's Armed Forces.

Nor is Israel content only with acquiring ever more West Bank territory. The June 2002 edition of The Art Newspaper reported that the Israeli army, in violation of the 1954 Hague Convention of Cultural Property During Times of War-of which Israel is a signatory-"deliberately" has destroyed parts of the historic cities of Nablus, Bethlehem and Hebron. …

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