Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's meeting with US President George W. Bush next week is supposed to serve as a preparatory stage ahead of a planned presidential address on the Palestinian conflict with Israel. According to media reports, Bush believes that five years after his last speech on the subject on June 24, 2002, the time has come for an updated assessment of the situation.
A lot has happened in the last five years both in Israel and in Palestinian society. A good way to understand our present circumstances is to recall that last speech, where Bush laid out his "vision" to bring peace to the Middle East by establishing an independent, democratic Palestinian state next to Israel on the west bank of the Jordan River on land that the League of Nations mandated in 1922 was to be reserved for the Jewish homeland.
Indeed, the president's words speak for themselves. Addressing the Palestinians, Bush said: "Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.
"I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty."
"A Palestinian state will never be created by terror - it will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or veiled attempts to preserve the status quo."
"The United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure."
Addressing the Arab states and the Palestinians, Bush said: "To be counted on the side of peace, nations must act. Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media, and publicly denounce homicide bombings. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel - including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah. Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to these groups, and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq. And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations."
Addressing Israel, the president said, "Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop."
Bush concluded, "This moment is both an opportunity and a test for all parties in the Middle East: an opportunity to lay the foundations for future peace; a test to show who is serious about peace and who is not."
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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