Thursday, January 10, 2008

President Bush Discusses Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process: Annotated Version

These are comments made by President Bush at the King David Hotel in Yerushalayim January 10, with comments added in brackets.

Good afternoon. I'd like to, first, thank Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas for their hospitality during my trip here to the Holy Land. We had very good meetings, and now is the time to make difficult choices.

I underscored to both Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas that progress needs to be made on four parallel tracks. First, both sides need to fulfill their commitments under the road map.

[Before the Hamas coup, the supposedly moderate Abu Mazen repeatedly insisted he would never undertake the steps necessary to fulfill his obligations under the roadmap; since the coup, he couldn't begin to fulfill them even if he wanted to. Thus, pressuring both sides to fulfill their commitments effectively amounts to pressuring Israel to restrict the natural development of Jewish communities in the disputed territories while Arab terrorists continue to murder Israelis.]

Second, the Palestinians need to build their economy and their political and security institutions. And to do that, they need the help of Israel, the region, and the international community.

[The most important thing they need to do that is the will, the decision that improving their own lives is more important than destroying the lives of Israelis. If they make that decision, they will be able to build their economy and political and security institutions with or without outside help; absent that collective decision, no outside help is worth anything.]

Third, I reiterate my appreciation for the Arab League peace initiative, and I call upon the Arab countries to reach out to Israel, a step that is long overdue.

[A step that's about sixty years overdue. Until they take that step, the so called peace initiative is a joke.]

In addition to these three tracks, both sides are getting down to the business of negotiating. I called upon both leaders to make sure their teams negotiate seriously, starting right now. I strongly supported the decision of the two leaders to continue their regular summit meetings, because they are the ones who can, and must, and -- I am convinced -- will lead.

[The negotiations bypass the one positive aspect of the roadmap, the insistence that each phase depends on completion of the previous phase. By jumping into negotiations when not only have the Arabs refused to implement the first phase but have no chance of doing so and also have no ability to adhere to any agreements they might sign — even ignoring the fact that they've blatantly violated every previous agreement — President Bush has destroyed his credibility.]

I share with these two leaders the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Both of these leaders believe that the outcome is in the interest of their peoples and are determined to arrive at a negotiated solution to achieve it.

[Given that Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is still clinging to the maximalist demands Yassir Arafat was making fourteen years ago, there is no evidence that Abbas is determined to reach an agreement.]

The point of departure for permanent status negotiations to realize this vision seems clear: There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967.

[The so-called occupation ended with the Oslo Accords, when Israel gave over the administration of the population centers in the disputed territories to the Palestinian Authority.]

The agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.

[It is physically impossible for a Palestinian Arab state to be contiguous without splitting Israel into non-contiguous parts unless Egypt and Jordan cede a corridor along their borders to that state. This is highly unlikely.]

It is vital that each side understands that satisfying the other's fundamental objectives is key to a successful agreement. Security for Israel and viability for the Palestinian state are in the mutual interests of both parties.

[If the rich Arab oil states have any interest, the viability of a Palestinian Arab state will not be a problem.]

Achieving an agreement will require painful political concessions by both sides.

[Israel has already made countless painful political concessions; it's long past time for the Palestinian Arabs to start making some concessions.]

While territory is an issue for both parties to decide, 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.

[See above. Contiguity is impossible; viability is simply a matter of the will of the Arabs.]

I believe we need to look to the establishment of a Palestinian state and new international mechanisms, including compensation, to resolve the refugee issue.

[Let us not forget: there are two sets of refugees, Arab and Jewish. Indeed, it's really a descendent of refugees issue, since the overwhelming majority of the original refugees on both sides are now dead.

The reasonable way to resolve the issue is for each side to take care of its own refugees. The Israelis have mostly done that for their refugees; the enormous oil wealth of the Arab states make it a relatively trivial task for the Arabs to do likewise for their refugees once they decide to stop using them as pawns in their drive to destroy Israel.]

I reaffirm to each leader that implementation of any agreement is subject to implementation of the road map. Neither party should undertake any activity that contravenes road map obligations or prejudices the final status negotiations. On the Israeli side that includes ending settlement expansion and removing unauthorized outposts. On the Palestinian side that includes confronting terrorists and dismantling terrorist infrastructure.

[Those are asymmetrical requirements which are unfair to Israel. Dismantling their terrorist infrastructure is something they were obligated to do under the original Oslo Accords; restricting natural construction of Jewish communities is effectively in contradiction of the requirement to not prejudice final status negotiations unless there is a simultaneous cessation of construction among Arab settlements in the disputed territories.]

I know Jerusalem is a tough issue. Both sides have deeply felt political and religious concerns. I fully understand that finding a solution to this issue will be one of the most difficult challenges on the road to peace, but that is the road we have chosen to walk.

[The major concern of the Arabs is that Jerusalem not be controlled by anyone but them. Given the history, the fact Jerusalem has a relatively minor role in Islam, indeed a position which is far less important than the position of Hebron is for Jews, the only reasonable solution is to keep the present status, as the unified capital of Israel with free access to all religious groups subject to security concerns, intact.]

Security is fundamental. No agreement and no Palestinian state will be born of terror. I reaffirm America's steadfast commitment to Israel's security.

[The attention given to the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state is testament to the fact that terror pays. There are numerous other groups, with a much longer history as national groups and a much greater claim, which get little attention simply because they haven't used the terror card nearly as effectively. The Tibetans, Armenians and Kurds are just a few examples.]

The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue.

[This is debatable, especially since there is a Palestinian Arab state already in existence on nearly four-fiths of Palestine.]

The Palestinian people deserve it.

[Only if one agrees all groups which claim nationality deserve a state regardless of their actions. If anything, the disgraceful history of the Palestinian Arabs, typified by the way they rejected the establishment of their own state in 2000 and launched a terrorist offensive instead, argues against their deserving a state.]

And it will enhance the stability of the region, and it will contribute to the security of the people of Israel. The peace agreement should happen, and can happen, by the end of this year. I know each leader shares that important goal, and I am committed to doing all I can to achieve it.

[If the Palestinian Arabs start serious negotiations — something they've never done, as they still cling to the same outrageous, maximalist demands they put forth at the start of the Oslo Process — and if they end their love affair with terrorism and if Hamas completely transforms itself from a terrorist gang to a civilized party and if Fatah does the same, each of which is extremely unlikely — there would be a chance to negotiate an agreement.]

Thank you.

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