10.24.2005

Peace and Reform in the Middle East

Moving forward in the Middle East peace process is an important matter. The region needs the congestion to be relieved somewhat. That will ensure an improved environment more proper for the new deal in the Middle East.

It is important to know that is extremely important to focus on administrating this conflict in the context of the peace process. Actually, the mere focus on settling this long conflict was neither productive nor realistic.

Restricting the use of force is essential and entails U.S. and European engagement. Without effective international engagement, I doubt any settlement or progress would be achieved.

Moving directly from the crisis to the settlement is unrealistic policy and may be counterproductive. My evidence on that is the Clinton administration policy and what it yielded.

It is necessary, in my view, for the U.S. to adopt a policy targets relief accompanied with improving security and economic conditions for Palestinians, and ensures Israeli commitment to a powerful Palestinian Authority, which is essential for Israeli security.

Powerful Palestinian Authority, relieved and more secure Palestinian population, more security for Israelis, and effective international engagement are key conditions for implementing the road map.

The calm and a progressive action plan, albeit not fast, are important for the U.S. interests and strategy in the Middle East on the short range. However, the peace settlement, which provides an appropriate climate, is not ever a condition for the Middle East reform. The linkage between them is deceiving and misleading and is a part of the official propaganda of the system of despots in the Middle East.

Following is the main points of the remarks by President Bush and Palestinian President Abbas after their meeting:

(Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

Palestinians Moving Closer to Independent State, Bush Says

Praises President Abbas' commitment to peaceful solution

After an “eventful year” in which Israel withdrew from Gaza and presidential and municipal elections were held in the Palestinian Territories, the Palestinian people are closer to achieving an independent state, President Bush said October 20.

Speaking at the White House with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Bush praised Abbas as “a man devoted to peace and to his people's aspirations for a state of their own,” and said, “today the Palestinian people are closer to realizing those aspirations.”

Bush said there now are partners in peace on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, and that Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “are showing strong leadership toward achieving that objective.”

“This is a time of great possibility in the Middle East, and the people of the region are counting on their leaders to seize the opportunities for peace and progress. This work isn't going to be easy, but the path forward is clear,” Bush said.

The president said the United States expects both Israel and the Palestinians to adhere to the road map agreement for peace. He called on Abbas to confront “armed gangs” that pose a threat to peace and to “a genuinely democratic Palestine.”

Bush, calling on Sharon’s government to remove unauthorized settlement outposts and to stop settlement expansion, said Israel must work to improve the daily lives of Palestinians and “should not undertake any activity that contravenes its road map obligations or prejudices the final status negotiations,”

The barrier Israel is erecting in the West Bank must be a security enhancement, not a political barrier, the president said. Israel also must “take into account the impact the security barrier has on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities,” he said.

“[W]e are holding people to account on the pledges that both the Palestinians and the Israelis have made on the road map. And we do so publicly, and we do so privately,” Bush said.

The president rejected the notion of a U.S. timetable for peace, saying “the United States will [not] try to conform and force parties to make decisions based upon the political schedule in America.”

“I'd like to see two states. And if it happens before I get out of office, I'll be there to witness the ceremony. … [I]f it doesn't, we will work hard to lay that foundation so that the process becomes irreversible,” he said.

Bush also called for the rebuilding of the Palestinian economy through measures such as opening the Rafah border crossing, connecting the West Bank and Gaza, easing travel restrictions in the West Bank and beginning work on the Gaza seaport.

“These are all practical steps that will help the Palestinian economy grow and flourish,” Bush said. The international community, especially Arab states, “have a particular responsibility to help the Palestinians build a strong and prosperous economy,” the president said.

The president thanked General William Ward, who is completing his services as senior U.S. security coordinator for the Palestinians, and said he would be naming a new coordinator within days to “take on an enhanced mission” to help the Palestinian Authority “end terror attacks, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, maintain law and order and one day provide security for their own state. “

ABBAS REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO PEACE

Abbas reaffirmed the Palestinians’ “commitment to peace and negotiated settlement,” and called for a Palestinian-Israeli partnership to create “a better future for the entire region” by ending decades of wars and occupation.

He said the U.S. position on the conflict “contributes fundamentally to advance the chances of reviving and resuming the peace process in the region.”

Abbas also said that approximately 100 days remain before Palestinians vote for their representatives on the Palestinian Legislative Council for the first time in 10 years, marking a “very important landmark” he said.

He said that the Palestinian Authority, to discourage terrorism, asked all groups to accept a "hudna," or calming, and then obtained an agreement from all groups to end armed demonstrations.

“Now all groups are under way to the electoral process, so all groups will become a part of the political Palestinian fabric. I believe this will create a new phase in the life of Palestinian people, a phase of democracy and pluralism . . . in order to be a solid base for peace in the region,” Abbas said.

He said his administration is undertaking other reforms, including security and advancing the rule of law, and has started launching a series of economic projects in the occupied territories. Abbas thanked the United States, Arab countries and others in the international community for their assistance and said “we hope that all these projects will be activated by the donor countries in order to increase the number of projects” that help the Palestinian people.

Thanking the president, Abbas said, “we are leaving Washington more sure and more confident of the possibility of reviving and resuming the peace process, and more determined to forge ahead along with the path of peace, democracy and freedom.”

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