Since the death of Arafat there has been lots of talk about how to proceed with the "peace process". There was a lot of question about how Bush would act and whether he would succumb to pressure from Europe and the UN to force Israel into concessions. On November 11th I wrote
that I was "hopeful, but not entirely optimistic" about Bush being able to resist such pressure. In the past few weeks I have grown much more optimistic.
In his appointment of Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State and Stephen Hadley as National Security Adviser, Bush has advanced two people who are very sympathetic to Israel and who believe that we can not return to the failed policies of Oslo and Clinton/Barak. Maybe even more importantly, Bush's vision of how to proceed has been guided by his general belief that the key to a stable and peaceful Middle East is democracy, not concessions. His words in today's speech in Canada confirm this.
Achieving peace in the Holy Land is not just a matter of pressuring one side or the other on the shape of a border or the site of a settlement. This approach has been tried before without success.
As we negotiate the details of peace, we must look at the heart of the matter, which is the need for a Palestinian democracy. The Palestinian people need a peaceful government that truly serves their interests. And the Israeli people need a true partner in peace.
Unlike his predecessors (or his opponent in the last election), Bush has an ideology and is willing to stand up for it. His steadfastness in the pursuit of these goals could actually produce dramatic and long lasting results in the Middle East.