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George Bush’s War Plan


Text : Anick Perreault-Labelle, Montreal


The situation in Israel has been strained . . . ever since the creation of Israel in 1948. Over the years, many have tried to put an end to the wars, occupations and revolts in this tiny, young country. The last one to try has been George W. Bush.It was in Saint John, in a long awaited speech, that he detailed his Middle East peace plan. But the proposals he put forward are highly unlikely to lead to an agreement between the parties involved.


A great God-abiding supporter of the Israelis, George Bush demanded that the Palestinians take the first step. And it is no small step that he demands. For Washington to agree to help, Palestinians are called upon to “. . . elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror.” In no uncertain terms, Palestinians must remove their leader, Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, as soon as possible. Palestinians must also implement reforms that will require “. . . entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.” This is all it will take!

If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals,” adds Bush, “they will be able to reach agreement with Israel [. . .] on security . . .” Only then will the United States of America “support the creation of a Palestinian state.” If everyone complies, promises Dubya, this can happen within three years.


The year 2005 will, however, not be the time to celebrate peace. The US President, specifies that the “borders [of this new Palestinian state] and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.”

Israelis must also do their share until then. Bush orders them to pull out their armed forces from Palestinian cities under their occupation since September 2000, the time when the second Intifada broke out.* They will then also have to leave the territories they invaded in the Six Day War of 1967, as required by United Nations resolutions passed 30 years ago!


Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, reacted positively to the speech. And, surprisingly, so did Yasser Arafat, even though he has remained silent on the reference to “leaders not compromised by terror.” The international community was more reserved.


S. Pritchett.

It is highly unlikely that the Palestinians will be able to reform their institutions in the near future, and thus make the peace plan work. But what really shocked the Arab world and Democrats was Bush’s call for a new Palestinian leader. Whatever people think of Yasser Arafat, he did in fact take office in due form during the 1996 general elections. In response to critics, the widely known leader has promised new elections, which he has a strong chance of winning. But even if he does not win, as US Senator George Mitchell pointed out, “There’s a risk that someone from Hamas or Islamic Jihad could succeed Arafat, which would make it much, much worse than the current situation.”


W.Horvath: « Spiral of Violence I: Ariel Sharon »

Yet even if Yasser Arafat is re-elected, he may not hold peace a priority. The terrorists imprisoned by his police force, for example, are quickly released. This is not to say, however, that negotiations should not be carried out with him. Yet Ariel Sharon refuses to deal with him. He described the Palestinian Authority leader as “irrelevant” and publicly regretted not having “liquidated” him in the early 1980s when he had the chance. By calling for the departure of Yasser Arafat—without saying so it in so many words—the US President in large part shares Israel’s position.


Does this come as a surprise? Since elected in November 2000, Bush has met with Ariel Sharon six times, but has yet to shake Yasser Arafat’s hand. Similarly, Washington has for a long time supported the Jewish State by selling it arms that serve mainly to battle against Palestinians.

The full details of a solution to the Middle East conflict are nonetheless clear: peace for land or land for peace. Attacks will end when territorial occupation ceases or the occupation will end when attacks stop. Who will take the first step is still unfortunately a matter to resolve. What land will be freed? What city will be the capital? (Israelis and Palestinians both claim Jerusalem.) And who will inhabit these new countries? There are more than three million Palestinian refugees and their return is uncertain. What remains non-negotiable are the negotiators themselves, but George Bush and Ariel Sharon prefer to not admit it.


* Palestinian revolt against Israeli occupation. It is also known as the War of Rocks because between 1987 and 1993—the first Intifada—Palestinian youth threw rocks at Israeli soldiers.

Gaza strip : Bande de Gaza / Golan Heights : Plateaux du Golan / West Bank : Cisjordanie.