Bush uses O-word!
Charles City Express.
Bush during his visit to Israel:
‘‘There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. 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.’’
By any Arab definition, the way Bush described occupation would include East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Golan Heights. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the president was talking just about the West Bank. In a nod to Israel, Bush said borders would have to be adjusted by mutual agreement ‘‘to reflect current realities’’ since Israel’s formation. He was referring primarily to Israeli neighborhoods on disputed lands, essentially saying Israel would keep these settlements when an independent Palestinian state is formed.
But he also said a Palestinian state must be ‘‘viable and contiguous.’’ Earlier in the day, Bush said Palestinians deserve better than a ‘‘Swiss cheese’’ state fitted around Israeli land and security bulwarks.
One new element was the suggestion that the international community should help compensate Palestinians and their descendants who claim a right to return to land they held before Israel’s formation.
‘‘It is vital that each side understands that satisfying the other’s fundamental objectives is key to a successful agreement,’’ the president said.
Bush’s remarks evoked scant reaction in Israel. Polls show a majority of Israelis support a land-for-peace agreement and are uncomfortable with the notion of a long-term occupation. In 2003, two years before Israel withdrew from Gaza, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that ‘‘keeping 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation is bad. Occupation is bad.’’