Palestine – Sharon’s Legacy Haunts Obama And Kerry…writes David Singer

January 27, 2014 by David Singer
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President Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry have a lot on their minds as they grapple with conflicts and political issues involving countries like Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan – which no doubt must be causing massive overloading of their respective memory banks.

Yet this would be a lame excuse for them forgetting about – or seeking to minimise – the existence and crucial importance of the letters exchanged on 14 April 2004 between President Bush and Israel’s then Prime Minister – Ariel Sharon – who died recently after languishing in a coma for seven years

These letters enabled courageous and highly dangerous decisions being taken by Sharon to kick start President Bush’s stalled 2003 Road Map – whose goal had been to end the Jewish-Arab conflict by 2005.

President Bush’s letter provided the catalyst – and the political justification – for Israel unilaterally evacuating the entire Jewish population of 8000 from Gaza and withdrawing Israel’s army totally from there – without any preconditions or undertakings being sought from the Palestinian Authority.

The Presidential letter set out the framework that Bush would support in negotiations between Israel and the PLO – conditions that Obama cannot possibly now discard as Kerry finalises his own framework agreement.

President Bush’s letter clearly – and unambiguously – assured Sharon that;

1.  The borders of any Palestinian Arab State would not encompass the entire West Bank despite
successive Arab leaders having demanded this outcome for the previous 37 years,

2.    Jewish towns and villages in the West Bank would be incorporated into the borders of Israel

3.    The Arabs would have to forego their demand to be given the right to allow millions of Arabs to emigrate to Israel and

4.    Israel’s existence as a Jewish State would be non-negotiable

Bush’s commitments to Sharon were approved – almost unanimously – by both the US House of Representatives and the Senate.

It didn’t take too long however for these Congress-endorsed commitments to be downplayed by Bush and his advisors.

In an editorial – published on 14 May 2008 – former Jerusalem Post editor – David Horovitz – revealed the extent of the American resistance to remaining bound by President Bush’s 2004 letter following a meeting with Bush in the White House with a group of Israeli journalists:

“Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, however, has been known to minimise the significance of this four-year-old letter. Just last week, for instance, she told reporters that the 2004 letter “talked about realities at that time. And there are realities for both sides….

Bush’s National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has also given briefings to the effect that Israel had tried to overstate the importance of a rather vague letter, which was issued at a time when Sharon was seeking to bolster support for the pullout from Gaza.

And in answering my question, Bush did not at first even realise that I was referring to the 2004 letter. Hadley, who was also in the Oval Office, had to prompt him. “Okay, the letters,” the president then said, remembering.”

This was far worse and more sinister than mere memory loss. An attempt was being made – as early as 2008 – to renege on America’s clear and unequivocal commitments given to Israel as the price for Israel’s total evacuation of Gaza.

Israel had already paid a high price relying on Bush’s Congress-endorsed letter.

Gaza had become a de facto terrorist State – with Hamas firmly entrenched as the governing authority.

Israel had – since its evacuation of Gaza in 2005 – been subjected to a sustained barrage of rockets and mortars fired indiscriminately into Israeli population centres from Gaza by a bewildering variety of terrorist groups and sub-groups who would have had no chance of operating so freely from Gaza if the Israeli Army had remained there.

Israel’s Prime Minister – Ehud Olmert – who succeeded Sharon – had neither forgotten nor overlooked the critical significance of President Bush’s letter when agreeing to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

At the international conference held in Annapolis in November 2007 to announce a breakthrough in the resumption of those negotiations – Olmert told Bush and the world leaders gathered there that:

“The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the road map and the April 14, 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”

The subsequent failure of those negotiations can be directly attributed to the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to countenance the Bush commitments made to Sharon.

As Obama gets ready to approve Kerry’s framework agreement – he and Kerry need to have their memory banks updated to remind them of the importance of honouring Bush’s commitments.

Any attempt by Obama and Kerry to resile from or circumvent Bush’s Congress-endorsed commitments to Sharon will torpedo any prospects for success in the current negotiations – leaving Obama and Kerry with no one but themselves to blame for bringing the current negotiations to an ignominious end.

The idea that any American President would not consider himself bound by the written commitments of a former President – as endorsed by Congress – would undermine America’s very democratic foundations.

Disavowing the Bush commitments would prejudice the integrity of American diplomacy world wide – ensuring any political decisions by the current administration would not be worth the paper they are written on.

Sharon has left behind a bitter pill – which Obama and Kerry must reluctantly swallow.

Congress will be there to make sure they do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

6 Responses to “Palestine – Sharon’s Legacy Haunts Obama And Kerry…writes David Singer”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    David

    you know well that I am one of your greatest supporters in everything you say and do. I am not trying to undermine your stances, hust adding my impressions.

    To continue in the same cynnical vein, even the Congress and Senate ( US ) objecting to foreign policy matters, as driven by the Oval Office, would have little or no impact on the continuation of the same strategies and offers of the same counterproductive statements from Kerry and Obama. By far the most important factor to consider is that, in ALL contemporary instances, Israel had to rely entirely on her own strength and determination. We, outside, help as much as we can and you, David, it must be said, have been one of the most reliable sources of confidence and shkoyach.

    • david says:

      Otto

      With respect you are missing the point.

      If Obama and Kerry refuse to accept the terms of the Bush letter then Israel is perfectly entitled to tell America that it no longer considers itself bound to continue any further negotiations under the Bush Roadmap.

      Breaching a binding commitment entitles the other party to call the deal off.

      The Roadmap was dead and buried in 2004 – had Sharon not thrown Bush a lifeline to keep it open by unilaterally disengaging from Gaza.

      The idea of the “two state solution” proposed by Bush in his Roadmap to create a second Arab state in former Palestine (in addition to Jordan) for the first time ever in recorded history would have been consigned to the garbage bin there and then in 2004.

      So far as I am aware the current negotiations are still being conducted by Israel and the PLO in conformity with what Olmert told the Annapolis Conference:
      “The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the road map and the April 14, 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”

      Since Abbas was standing there next to Olmert and never indicated his disagreement with what Olmert said – then I believe I am right in making this assertion.

      If anyone has a contrary view – I would be pleased to hear from them.

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        David

        I am in full agreement with your points. They/you demonstrate the fluidity of “agreements” PARTICULARLY when irimplementation is delayed.

        The passing of time between the Bush “letter” Anapolis and Oslo, the concrete , palpable reality that the palestinians did not and obvioulsy did not WANT to comply with ANY agreements, has deemed the entire complexity of negotiations hitherto so ineffective, so null and void, that Israel is logically entitled to adopt ANY stance in order to ensure that the SAME FUNDAMENTAL principle of security is guaranteed.
        Israel will talk to the current palestinian leadership but the message shall be naturally, logically the same, i.e. as long as the palestininas will be the palestinians of the past , say, 65 years, there shall be NO palestinian state. And this rationale has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with ANY US President, be it Bush, Clinton, Obama or, indeed to any so called agreements.
        This is also to say that, if Israel indeed signed with positive intentions some “agreement”, a million practical provisos would have had to be worked out before what was in brief and symbolic shape on the paper of the “agreement” would become reality.
        Circle complete !!!

  2. WELL SAID OTTO, I’M IN FULL AGREEMENT WITH YOU – THE KVETCH GAMKEN.

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    David,
    none of the parties involved with Israel in sorting out the palestininas is bound to ANY so called agreements, let alone a letter Bush addressed Israel with, of course, ramifications to other parties, including the US.
    You know too well that dynamics in political effeorts toward changes have one seminal characteristc, that is THE ALSO ALLOW for constant chages, even to FUNDAMENTALS.
    The mere notion of a “peiec of paper” changing the course of history is, at least, demoted to naivete.
    One of the reasons Bush could not remember only a few lines obove his signature is that he did NOT conceive the “plan”, it had to be driven, drawn and put together by any of his councils, but more importantly, Israel and the palestinians are among the LAST things on ANY US President’s minds.
    They are obsessive issues with you and I, with millions of devoted Israelis and other Zionsist, but, outside OUR world is the OTHER world, well outside ours. That world functions on its own idealistic engine, tangible problems and incredibly selfish strategies and aims.
    Israel is almost entirely OUR responsibility and we should gauge carefully our notions of having “others” be involved as concerned as us, let alone along identical ideals.
    Otherwise thank G-d for Jwire for letting us letting off steam and kvetching.

    • david Singer says:

      Otto:

      You miss the point.

      This is not just “a piece of paper”.

      It is a commitment made by an American President to an Israeli Prime Minister – whose terms have been endorsed almost unanimously by the US Senate and House of Representatives.

      If Kerry’s framework does not include Bush’s commitments to Sharon or seeks to back out of them – then hopefully Congress will have something to say on America seeking to renege on its commitments to Israel.

      If Congress does not so act – no one will be able to rely on anything this Administration says in the future.

      Obama and Kerry
      Better be very wary
      If Sharon’s legacy
      They try to bury

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