Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Why Did Bush Take My Job?

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Why Did Bush Take My Job?

Article excerpt

JERUSALEM-President Bush apparently has taken my job.

Until the Bush-Sharon press conference on April 14, I was the chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, the only internationally recognized entity that has a mandate to negotiate a permanent peace with Israel. But then Bush appeared on television, standing at the White House next to a beaming Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, and announced that he had accepted Israel's claim to illegally occupied Palestinian land. He further determined that Palestinian refugees would never be allowed to return to their homes in Israel and would instead have to be resettled in a Palestinian state, vast tracts of which he had just given away.

In so doing, Bush reneged on the 1991 U.S. Letter of Assurances provided to the Palestinians by his father's administration; the letter said that "no party should take unilateral actions that seek to predetermine issues" and that "the United States has opposed and will continue to oppose settlement activity in the territories occupied in 1967." Bush, as the self-appointed Palestinian negotiator, finally exposed the "Middle East peace process" for the charade that it has become-a mechanism by which Israel and the United States impose a solution on the Palestinians.

In this era of unmatched and unchallenged U.S. power, Bush abandoned America's historical role as facilitator and mediator of Middle Bast peace and instead simply adopted the positions of an expansionist, right-wing government in Israel. It is mind-boggling that an American president, often citing the rule of law, would use the power of his position not to enforce international law against illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory but instead to legitimize them as "currently existing Israeli population centers," thereby giving Israelis an incentive to build even more. It is mind-boggling that a president who supports equality and non-discrimination would dismiss the rights of Christian and Muslim refugees to return to their homes in the "Jewish state"-a term often repeated but never defined or even left to the parties to negotiate. And it is mind-boggling that the leader of the free world, the president of a nation whose very existence is based on liberty and justice, would act so callously to deny liberty and justice to the Palestinian people.

The positions taken by Bush are completely contrary to, and thus seriously undermine, the expressed objectives of American policy of democratic reform in the Middle East. Freedom? …

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