Apr 18, 2005
Israeli Prime Minister Sharon came to visit President Bush. He walked away with the endorsement for his policy of promising to pull back from Gaza while continuing the colonization of the West Bank.
Bush stated that he hoped "not to see Israel take initiatives that go against its obligations under the Roadmap to Peace." To follow this, the Israeli government must "dismantle its illegal settlements" in the West Bank. But as many times as this demand has been formulated, there has never been a significant step taken to achieve it, above all not by the Israelis.
Of course, it all depends on what they mean by "illegal settlements"? From the viewpoint of the Palestinians, all the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in Gaza are "illegal". But for the American and Israeli leaders, this refers just to a few trailer camps set up here and there on the top of the hills. So Sharon, while pretending to dismantle settlements in the time prescribed, also reaffirmed that the 240,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank located in the "large settlements" will remain there no matter what agreements are reached between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders regarding the West Bank.
The Roadmap to Peace, the plan concocted in 2002 by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations anticipated the freezing of Israeli settlements and the creation of a Palestinian state along- side Israel. But the road that leads to the creation of a Palestinian state has since been lost in the sand of the settlements in the West Bank, and Israel has underlined its real decision by constructing that shameful wall that not only separates Israel from any future Palestinian state, but carves up the Palestinian state before it's created.
While pretending to end the settlement of some 8000 settlers in Gaza, Sharon has made it clear he will continue the settlements in the West Bank. By the time negotiations continue, there will already be new settlements installed and additional parcels of Palestinian land annexed by Israel.
The construction of 3500 new lodgings in a new settlement in Maale Adunim has just been announced. This new construction not only completes a link from Jerusalem to the most important settlement in the West Bank (with some 28,000 inhabitants), but it will also cut the West Bank in half and worsen the situation of the Palestinians.
If Washington really wanted to advance towards a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it would demand that the Israeli government pull back from more than just a few "illegal settlements." The American government has all the means to do this, starting from the fact that it could end financial aid to the Israeli government if it didn't comply. This is something mentioned in the past, but action has never followed these words. In fact, just the opposite has been done, with Bush stating that "a return to the borders of 1949 is unrealistic." During his last presidential campaign, Bush promised he would never impose any action on Israel that could weaken its security. Each and every time that Sharon asks for something, he surrounds his demand with talk of "security." The "peace process" will just have to be put off. These two hypocrites couldn't make a better team.
After the meeting between Bush and Sharon, the Palestinians protested to Washington saying that the refusal to return to the borders of 1949 means to allow the Israeli settlements to remain in the West Bank. In response, Bush and Sharon responded together that the Palestinian leaders should first worry about dismantling the armed Palestinian groups, even though that is something they can not do, and would be wrong to do. And of course, neither Bush nor Sharon spoke about the deadly abuses of the Israeli army, which on the weekend of April 9-10 killed three Palestinian youth in the West Bank.
From time to time, Bush may pretend to raise his voice, but the essential fact is that he allows Sharon to do as he pleases, to continue his policy of settlements to the detriment of the Palestinians.