Friday, April 16, 2004

Bush Endorsement of Sharon Proposal Undermines Peace and International Law: "President George W. Bush's unconditional endorsement of right-wing Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan constitutes a shocking reversal of longstanding U.S. Middle East policy and one of the most flagrant challenges to international law and the integrity of the United Nations system ever made by a U.S. president.

"By giving unprecedented backing for Israeli plans to annex large swaths of occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank in order to incorporate illegal Jewish settlements, President Bush has effectively renounced UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, which call on Israel - in return for security guarantees from its Arab neighbors - to withdraw from Palestinian territories seized in the June 1967 war. All previous U.S. administrations of both parties had seen these resolutions as the basis for Arab-Israeli peace."

"President Bush also went on record rejecting the right of Palestinian refugees to return to what is now Israel. While it had been widely assumed that the Palestinians would be willing to compromise on this area once talks resumed, by effectively settling issues that were up for negotiations, it has pre-empted key concessions the Palestinians may have made been able to make in return for Israeli concessions. However, the Bush Administration has determined that it now has the right to unilaterally give away Palestinian rights and Palestinian land. The shock experienced by the Palestinians is matched only by the dismay of moderate and liberal Israelis, who fear this will only encourage Palestinian extremists. By incorporating these illegal settlements - which the Clinton Administration recognized were an "obstacle to peace" - it divides the West Bank in such a way that makes a viable contiguous Palestinian state impossible. Indeed, in response to the announcement, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi said that Bush has "put an end to the illusions" of a peaceful solution."

"It is also being widely interpreted as an effort to short-circuit last fall's Geneva Initiative - supported by the Palestinian leadership and leading Israeli moderates - where Palestinians agreed that Israel could annex some blocs of settlements, but only along Israel's internationally- recognized borders and only in exchange for an equivalent amount of territory currently part of Israel that would be granted to the new Palestinian state.

"More fundamentally, Bush's endorsement of an Israeli annexation of land it conquered in the 1967 war is a direct challenge to the United Nations Charter, which forbids any country from expanding its territory through military force. This therefore constitutes nothing less than a renunciation of the post-World War II international system, effectively recognizing the right of conquest."

Bush has simply acknowledged formally and explicitly the de-facto policy of the US since the early 1970s - that Israel could continue to occupy and colonise the Palestinian Territories with massive US backing. Thus, the mask of 'freedom and values' is off, and naked force and aggression is to be practiced and rewarded, leading to a further loss of US moral credibility, although it has little left to lose by now.

However, the striking departure of Bush is a measure of his arrogance and hubris, as it could finally remove the possibility of a two-state solution right at the time when to end the war on terror/Islam it has become crucial to resolve the Palestinian dispute. In other words another calculated and massive escalation of the war, to the dismay of the whole world.

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