Meeting People’s Expectations
George S. Hishmeh *
Washington DC - The Palestinian delegation, led by
President Mahmoud Abbas, was elated with their American reception last week,
especially the unexpectedly lavish praise from US President George W. Bush.
This, despite the fact that none of this was in the form of a letter similar
to the one Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received a little over year
Yet there was good reason for the Palestinian exuberance,
as no American president had committed himself to the Palestinians as Bush
had, being the first to call for a two-state solution. Bush showered Abbas
and the performance of the Palestinian people with public praise for the
successful presidential election held under Israeli occupation.
He noted before the White House press corps: "We meet at a time when a great
achievement of history is within reach, the creation of a peaceful,
democratic Palestinian state."
He continued, "President Abbas is seeking that goal by rejecting violence
and working for democratic reform. I believe the Palestinian people are
fully capable of justly governing themselves, in peace with their
neighbours." Bush pledged to "stand with you, Mr President, as you combat
corruption, reform the Palestinian security services and your justice system
and revive your economy.
"Mr President, you have made a new start on a difficult journey, requiring
courage and leadership each day and we will take that journey together."
The American president resurrected long-forgotten aspects of the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict when he declared: "Israel must continue to take
steps towards a peaceful future, and work with the Palestinian leadership to
improve the daily lives of Palestinians, especially their humanitarian
situation. Israel should not undertake any activity that contravenes roadmap
obligations or prejudice final status negotiations with regard to Gaza, the
West Bank and [occupied] Jerusalem.
"Therefore, Israel must remove unauthorised outposts and stop settlement
[colony] expansion. The barrier being erected by Israel as a part of its
security effort must be a security, rather than political, barrier ...
Israel should ... As we make progress ... Israeli forces should withdraw to
their positions on September 28, 2000."
Bush went on, recalling the usually forgotten stipulation that "any final
status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the
1949 Armistice lines [or Green Line] must be mutually agreed to. A viable
two-state solution must ensure contiguity of the West Bank, and a state of
scattered territories will not work. There must also be meaningful linkages
between the West Bank and Gaza. "This is the position of the United States,
and it will be the position of the United States at the time of final status
He also broke with Congress and authorised (reportedly with advance approval
from the Republican Party leadership) the payment of $50 million (Dh183
million) directly to the Abbas government and then expanded, much to
Israel's chagrin, the mandate of General William Ward to negotiate security
matters between the Palestinians and Israelis.
All this is music to the ears of many Palestinians. However the missing link
here is a genuine timetable for the implementation of these high-sounding
American promises to the beleaguered Palestinian leadership, which is facing
an uphill battle in next month's parliamentary elections from Hamas, the
diehard Palestinian Islamist group.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be travelling to the region in a
few weeks' time to "consult with Israelis and Palestinians on the [Gaza]
disengagement, their shared commitments and the way back on the roadmap.”
The imminent dispatch of Rice and the expansion of Ward's mandate probably
signals a marked improvement over the unhealthy relationship between the
State Department and the White House when Colin Powell ran the country's
foreign policy in the first Bush administration.
At present, the key officials see eye-to-eye on the Middle East. In fact,
this was evident on the eve of the Bush-Abbas talks, when Rice invited the
leadership of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), a
Palestinian-American organisation that is slowly gaining the
administration's confidence and respect, for an exchange of views on the
They felt gratified that Rice stressed to them that when the time comes for
final status negotiations, the Bush administration will not abandon the
In fact, Dr Ziad Asali, the ATFP president, told this writer that he felt
Bush had delivered publicly "on all sensitive issues, including [occupied]
Jerusalem and the Armistice line by issuing sympathetic language that met
high Palestinian expectations".
But the key point that has yet to be spelled out by the administration is
setting a timetable for all these expectations. Abbas hit the nail on the
head when he declared after his meeting with Bush, "We should end this
conflict before it is too late."
* George S. Hishmeh is an Arab American columnist
based in Washington DC.
Source: The Arabic Media Internet Network (AMIN.org), June 2, 2005.
Visit AMIN.org Online: www.AMIN.org
When Left and Right Are Right
by David Kimche
David Kimche, former Foreign Ministry director-general, writes, “We are all
- Left and Right - entrenched in our views, convinced we know best what is
good for Israel. But what if diehard right-wingers and diehard leftists
started listening to each other's arguments? What if sane rightists - not
the messianics - and sane leftists - not the Israel-bashers - opened
themselves up to the other point of view?” (Source: The Jerusalem Post, June
Advertising for a Lasting Peace
by Maurice Levy
Maurice Levy, of the advertising and communications company, Publicis
Groupe, reveals how months of secret sessions has lead to a joint Israeli
and Palestinian advertising campaign promoting peace. “We aren't deluding
ourselves. Advertising will never be a substitute for the hard work needed
to craft a peace agreement. That has to do with fundamental issues like
land, justice, liberty and security. Yet we must remember that without an
underlying popular will and desire to move forward, any Israeli-Palestinian
agreement will be much more difficult to reach - and will be much less
solid.” (Source: International Herald Tribune, June 9, 2005)
Jerusalem: The Candle of Humanity
by Rami Assali
Rami Assali describes a walk through the Old City of Jerusalem. “What
makes a garden beautiful is the arrangement of various kinds of flowers in a
way that harmonizes the colours combined together. What’s a garden with only
roses, or daisies, or lilies, or trees? It’s a garden with no harmony, no
life, no spirit. Even if the roses are very beautiful, they won’t make a
beautiful garden. What makes my Jerusalem unique and special is its
diversity, not its holiness. Why did God make Jerusalem holy for all
religions in the first place? Because it is a message that Jerusalem is
nobody’s and everybody’s city.” (Source: CGNews, June 10, 2005)
Shooting for Equality – On the Soccer Field and Off
by Daniel Ben-Tal
Writer Daniel Ben-Tal chronicles the rising success of soccer team Ichud Abu
Ghosh-Mevasseret. Although Arab players on Israeli teams is nothing new,
“Ichud (United) Abu Ghosh-Mevasseret has taken coexistence one step further
by forming Israel's first combined Jewish-Arab club that is explicitly more
than just about soccer.” (Source: This is an abbreviated version of an
article that appeared in ISRAEL21c, May 15, 2005)