Bush Scandals List

38. Inaction on Israeli-Palestinian peace process

No serious attempt to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Bush’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would charitably be described as hands off and disengaged. On June 24, 2002, Bush did for the first time seem to support the creation of a Palestinian state:

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

But as can be seen this declaration was highly conditioned and even then it would result initially in only "provisional" sovereignty for Palestinians. From this, it took almost a year for the Administration to come up with a more detailed plan. On April 30, 2003, it announced its Roadmap:

The following is a performance-based and goal-driven roadmap, with clear phases, timelines, target dates, and benchmarks aiming at progress through reciprocal steps by the two parties in the political, security, economic, humanitarian, and institution-building fields, under the auspices of the Quartet [the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia]. The destination is a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by 2005, as presented in President Bush’s speech of 24 June . . .

A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.

The plan if not a quid pro quo for British participation in the invasion of Iraq was at least at the very strong suggestion of the British. The message was, however, stepped on by Bush as it came out just one day before his well known Mission Accomplished speech where he effectively and inaccurately declared victory in Iraq. After this, nothing happened except for the occasional vague pronouncement of even vaguer talks. The epitome of this was Condoleezza Rice’s announcement in Luxor on January 15, 2007 of talks on talks to develop a "political horizon" for a return to the "Roadmap" leading to a final Israeli-Palestinian settlement.

As the Bush Administration approached the end of its seventh year and the question of her legacy occupied Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, she arranged with Bush’s general support the Annapolis peace conference. The conference was attended by representatives of more than 40 countries, including the Saudis and Syrians but not the Iranians (who were not invited) and the Iraqis (who were invited but declined). It lasted a grand total of one day (November 27, 2007) and ended not with a commitment to act but as on all previous occasions a commitment to talk. This was not surprising given the political weakness of the three primary participants Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olemrt and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Bush’s detachment was exemplified by his inability to pronounce the names of either of his two guests of honor referring to them as "Ehud Elmo" and "Mahoomed Abbas" and his own rapid departure after his speech.

Shortly before a week long trip (January 8-16, 2008) to the Middle East where he was to visit Israel for the first time, Bush philosophized in a January 6, 2008 interview for al Arabiya about his Administration’s record on Israel-Palestine:

for the couple of years of my administration. It took a while to convince people that the two-state solution was in the security interests of both parties. And plus, there was a couple of difficult — there was a difficult situation, the truth be known. One was the intifada, which made it awfully hard to discuss peace at that time. The other was the Iraq invasion. It just — it created the conditions that made it more difficult to get people’s minds in the right place to begin the process. And so now I think we’ve got the stars lined up, and I think we got a shot, and I’m going for it.

Of course, he really isn’t going for it. After having criticized Clinton’s efforts as belated and incrementalist, Bush thinks he can achieve a deal by coming even later to the problem and solving it while being less involved. This is not serious.

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