Yesterday's meeting between Bush and Sharon, and Bush's subsequent support for Sharon's plan for disengagement from Gaza in return for Israel keeping parts of the West Bank, has been described as "historic" and a "change" in long-standing US policy. This is simply not true. Arab propaganda has managed to persuade most of the world that they are entitled to all of the West Bank and that Israel must relinquish it all for peace based on UN resolutions. But in fact, this is the exact opposite of the intent and actual wording of UN Res. 242, the original resolution that enshrined the ahistorical and absurd notion of "land for peace" in international consciousness. That resolution clearly states that Israel must withdraw "from territories occupied in the recent conflict", not "from the
territories ...". So really, Bush is merely affirming the original UN resolution, not creating a new policy. Nevertheless, it is important in its abandonment of the Arab and European (and US State Department) positions; in effect reducing the influence of those groups on future negotiations.
Predictably, Arabs are whining and seething that Bush's support for the disengagement plan is unfair. In perhaps one of the most impudent statements, Yasser Abed Rabbo stated: "I believe President Bush declared the death of the peace process today", as if 3 1/2 years of a brutal terrorist war and the Arab violation of every single agreement they signed did not declare "the death of the peace process". According to Stratfor.com
, if this plan is implemented, it would mean the end of the PA (something which probably should have been ended a while ago). Sharon is quoted as saying "They have a better understanding of the significance of (Bush's) letter than most Israelis. I said that we were going to deal them a lethal blow, and they were dealt a lethal blow." Its probably a bit too early to definitively declare that, and still unclear if the end of the PA would be an unambiguous positive since it would further radicalize the Arabs, at least initially. On the other hand, such a radicalization could be positive in showing the true face of the Arabs to the parts of the world that still refuse to see it.