Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It Still Takes Two To Tango

The following is the response given by President Bush to the question "Why do you believe that you can reach peace in 12 months, when it hasn't been attainable in the seven years of your presidency -- and long before that?" asked by Yonit Levi of Channel 2 News. The entire interview is available at

Unfortunately, the president seems to have forgotten an agreement can only be reached when both parties are willing and there has been no indication on the part of the Palestinian Arabs that they will ever compromise. One each of the so-called "core issues," their position remains exactly what it was in 1993 — the total rejection of any compromise — even on the phony "right-to-return" which isn't even a legitimate issue and is in total conflict with the entire concept of a two-state solution.

The implication that the Palestinian Arabs do not know they have something to hope for is also patently absurd; they know the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state in most of the disputed territories only awaits the end of their refusal to compromise.

I think we can reach a vision of what a Palestinian state would look like. But I have made it abundantly clear that the existence of a state will be subject to the obligations in the road map. And so the goal is to have something other than just verbs -- words. In other words, here's what a state will look like. And what's important for that is that the Palestinians need to have something to hope for, something to be for. There needs -- Abbas, who has agreed that Israel has the right to exist, must be able to say to his people: be for me, support me, and this is what can happen; if you follow the way of the terrorists and the killers, this will never happen.

And so I'm optimistic that we can have the outlines of a state defined. In other words, negotiations on borders and right of return and these different issues can be settled. I'm optimistic because I believe Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas want to achieve that objective. I know I'm willing to help. But I believe we can get that done, and I think it's in Israel's interest to get it done.

One reason why it was impossible to get a two-state solution moving forward previous to this is, one, when we first came into office there was an intifada. Secondly, a lot of people didn't necessarily agree with the two-state solution as being in Israel's interest. Ariel Sharon changed that point of view. Prime Minister Olmert campaigned on that. And so we have a good chance.

I do want to emphasize, however, that the state won't come into being just because we defined a state. It will come into being subject to the road map, and that's important for the Israeli people to understand.

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