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WCJ Comments on the Remarks by G.W. Bush on The Middle East Conflict
Publication date: 2002-06-12

On the 10th of May 2002, the World Court of Justice sent to G.W. Bush (President of the USA) a questionnaire to clarify his views and intentions on dealing with the three main causes of the present violence in Israel and Palestine.

G.W. Bush did not provide any answers to the Questionnaire, but on the 10 of June 2002 he made public remarks on his position on the conflict before the media following his meeting with Ariel Sharon (the Prime Minister of Israel).

Below follow comments of the World Court of Justice on the remarks made by G.W. Bush.

The Issues in the Middle East Conflict
Comments on the Issues in G.W. Bushes Remarks
No. Remark Comments

1

I reiterated my strong view that we need to work toward two states living side by side in peace.

This statement could be accepted at the time G.W. Bush started dealing with the issue as an indication of the general approach.

Now that he has been dealing with the issue for months, this statement is not enough. He should state what exactly is meant by the two states.

Moreover, the cause of the present conflict is not the recognition or non-recognition of a Palestinian and an Israeli state.

Both the states have been proclaimed by themselves, both the states have been recognised by at least some countries, and both the states have their flags and their anthems.

Statehood is not the cause of the conflict.

The causes of the conflict are:

  1. the expulsion by the Israelis of some Palestinians from their land in 1948,


  2. the occupation by the Israelis of the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and South Lebanon in 1967, and


  3. the present Israeli attacks on the Palestinians.


These 3 causes result in Palestinian attacks on the Israelis, and Israeli attacks on the Palestinians.

Resolution of these 3 issues would stop the violence from the Palestinian side and this would deprive the Israelis of justification for their military activities against the Palestinians.

If G.W. Bush wants to resolve the crisis, he should state clearly how he proposes to resolve these issues, and not make vague remarks about a two state solution.

2

There are people in the Middle East who want to use terror as a way to dis-rail - derail any peace process. And we've got to work together to create the conditions that prevent a few from stopping what most people in the region want, which is peace.

This remark is too vague to be of any practical benefit. Who are these people G.W. Bush is talking about?

Is it those Israelis who believe that the borders of Israel should be extended to include the present Palestinian territories as well as Jordan and Syria?

Or is it Ariel Sharon under whose government Palestinians are being expelled from their houses in East Jerusalem?

Or is it the Israeli settlers who are continuing to extend their settlements on the Palestinian land?

Or is it the Israeli armed forces, who kill Palestinian civilians and destroy buildings?

G.W. Bush should state precisely:

  1. what "people" he is talking about,


  2. what "peace process" he is talking about, and


  3. how these "people" are "derailing" this "peace process".


Once it is established what the "peace process" is, who the "people" are, and how they are "derailing" that "peace process", it will become clear what actions need to be undertaken and by whom to prevent those "people" from "derailing" that "peace process".

Without such clear and precise information there is no hope of achieving any results.

3

Israel has a right to defend herself.

Does the right to defend themselves also apply to the Palestinians?

And, if not, then why not?

And if for whatever reason the Palestinians should not be entitled to the right of self-defence, then what international institution, or any other entity is responsible for their protection?

The Palestinian authority has been repeatedly appealing to the United Nations, and to the international community at large, including the United States to protect them from the Israeli hostilities. The American administration has been blocking any attempts by the United Nations to stop the Israeli attacks on the Palestinians, nor, apart from verbal requests by G.W. Bush himself which were ignored by the Israelis, did the American administration make any effective attempts to stop the Israeli attacks on the Palestinians.

Who else can the Palestinians turn to for their defence?

4

... the conditions necessary to achieve what we want - which is a secure region and a hopeful region. And that's why we discussed reforms necessary for the - that would enable a Palestinian Authority to emerge, which could give great confidence to two people, the Israelis and, as important, the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority has already emerged.

Its structure or composition are matters of concern to the Palestinians themselves and to nobody else.

Nor can any changes of structure or composition of the Palestinian Authority result in resolution of any of the 3 issues underlying the present hostilities.

5

And so we're going to continue to work together, along with other Arab - along with some of the Arab leaders to fight off terror, to prevent the few from dictating against the will of the many in the region.

Again it is not clear whom G.W. Bush means in his reference to the "few" (as in Remark 2).

6

I am disappointed that he [Yasser Arafat] has not led in such a way that the Palestinian people have hope and confidence. And so, therefore, what we've got to do is work to put institutions in place which will allow for a government to develop which will bring confidence not only to Israelis, but the Palestinians.

This remark is too vague to be of any practical value.

G.W. Bush should state clearly and precisely what actions or lack of actions on the part of Yasser Arafat failed to meet his expectations and in what way.

The aspirations of the Palestinians (which also happen to be the causes of the present conflict) are enumerated in the Comment to Remark 1.

It is true that some Palestinians do not have sufficient confidence that Yasser Arafat can achieve these aspirations by peaceful means. This is why they support more radical (or "militant") organisations, and resort to violence. Does G.W. Bush suggest that Yasser Arafat should adopt a more "militant" approach?

And if not, then what peaceful means are available to Yasser Arafat to achieve the aspirations of the Palestinian people?

But may be the aspirations of the Palestinian people are not legitimate?

May be they are not entitled to live on their land?

If this is the view of G.W. Bush, then he should clearly state it, giving full reasons.

7

You're talking about the proposed summit this summer, a ministerial summit of people that come together to work toward the conditions necessary to establish a peace. See, the conditions aren't even there yet - that's because no one has confidence in the emerging Palestinian government.

G.W. Bush is right. There is no need for a summit. The issues are known and clear.

  • The position of the Palestinian Authority is clear - they support the Saudi Plan for Peace.


  • The position of the Arab states is clear - they support the Saudi Plan for Peace.


  • The position of the majority of the Israelis is clear - they support the Saudi Plan for Peace.


  • The position of the Likud Party in Israel, on whose behalf Ariel Sharon is heading the government of the State of Israel, is also clear - they do not want a Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories. They want a one state solution - all of Palestine to become part of the State of Israel.


  • The position of Ariel Sharon is not very clear. He says, that he wants peace and prosperity for all people in the region, but it is not clear, how he is going to achieve these objectives.


  • The position of G.W. Bush is not clear - he holds a view that there should be "two states living side by side in peace", but it is not clear what these states are going to be, and how he proposes to resolve the three causes of the conflict.




If G.W. Bush agrees with the Saudi proposals, then he should clearly state so, and then the parties could have a meeting to discuss the implementation details.

If he does not support the Saudi Plan, then he should produce a clear plan of his own and to present it to the Palestinian Authority and the Arab States.

Then it will be up to the Palestinian Authority and the Arab States to agree to his proposals, or to disagree with them stating their reasons for disagreement.

This process does not need a meeting, the parties can publish their proposal and communicate them to each other in writing. This will result in a more effective use of time and better thought out proposals, because the parties will be able to dedicate the necessary time and resources to their preparation, rather than trying to come up with an answer at a meeting.

8

And so, first things first, and that is, what institutions are necessary to give the Palestinian people hope and to give the Israelis confidence that the emerging government will be someone with whom they can deal. And that's going to require security steps; transparency, when it comes to economic matters; anti-corruption devices; rule of law, enforced by a court system.

The reason for the present violence is not the structure of the Palestinian Authority.

It is the reaction of the Palestinians to the Israeli incursions.

This is what an Israeli journalist, Suzanne Goldenberg, who researched the phenomenon of Palestinian "suicide bombings" writes in The Guardian (June 11, 2002):

"On one side stands an army of volunteers, ready to kill and be killed, intent on inflicting the maximum in Israeli civilian casualties. They can strike anywhere, at any time, turning the most mundane activity - a cup of coffee in a cafe, a bus trip - into a death journey.

... On the other side stands a regional superpower which unleashed F-16s and Apache helicopters, gunboats and tanks against Palestinian refugee camps and towns, and assassinated leading activists.

This deadly dynamic between the suicide bombers and the Israeli army assaults is the essence of the conflict.

Undeterred by the army, the ranks of suicide bombers have grown. A tactic once restricted to a hardcore of Islamist militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad has been adopted wholesale by secular Palestinian organisations such as Yasser Arafat's Fatah and the Marxist-leaning Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine."

No Palestinian government, even if it is headed by Ariel Sharon himself, will be able to stop the Palestinian resistance, as long as the Israeli incursions continue. And the harsher the incursions, the stronger and more wide-spread is the resistance. To stop the violence the Palestinians have to see hope of achieving their aspirations by peaceful means. No changes in the structure of the Palestinian government can achieve that.

9

Now, it is very important for people to understand that as these steps are taken, as this - people work together to achieve the institutions necessary for peace, that there is a political process on the horizon as well. But the ministerial meetings that the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, suggested are all aimed at achieving - working toward the foundation necessary for there to be confidence and eventual peace.

While G.W. Bush is talking about "horizons" and "eventual peace", the Israeli military are killing Palestinians, destroying their houses, seizing their land for their own use, arresting Palestinians and interfering with their freedom of movement, and there are cases of abuse, which can only be explained by perverse brutality and cannot be justified on any grounds. In response, Palestinians kill Israelis.

Some Israelis are talking about implementing the "second half of 1948", that is of expelling the Palestinians from the rest of Palestine. But 1948 has not brought peace, it is the primary cause of the present conflict. Attempts by the Israelis to extend their borders will result not in peace, but in extension and prolongation of the conflict.

It is within the powers and abilities of G.W. Bush to stop the violence.

He can do it by either accepting the Saudi Peace Plan and imposing it on the Israelis, or by presenting a clear, precise and workable plan of his own.


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