Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bush calls for end to Israeli Occupation of Palestine


Peace in the Middle East. Remember that bumper sticker saying and people would say it gruffly like in a hip hop video. It seems that Peace may finally be possible, if the Bush administration has anything to do with it.

The Bush administration is taking an interesting stance in the month following the Annapolis conference.

President Bush with nothing else to loose is doing something no other President has ever done in pursuit of a lasting Peace in the Middle East. He's putting his foot down. I have to congratulate him on such efforts, it's about time is a phrase that comes to mind. There have been many missed opportunities within the last 15 years to exert American Muscle since we're at the apogee of our Influence.

"There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967," Bush told reporters in Jerusalem. "The agreement must establish a Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people."
If President Bush can pull this off it may very well be the saving grace for his legacy and tenure in the White House - with the country at war, the economy in recession and a national debt that has consumed a record budget surplus and since balooned, this is the Salvo that he needs as he rides off into the sunset to Crawford.

Many see this as a step away from the policy that the US has held for the past 50 + years of unabashed support for the State of Israel. Many on the American Right will no doubt be angered over what the President call's painful concessions. Especially considering American Support for Israel is at a 5 year high at least among evangelical Americans. "There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967," Bush told reporters in Jerusalem. "The agreement must establish a Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people." Bush said. (CNN) The President has not gone so far as to support dividing Jerusalem or any other plan for the Holy City, but in October of 2007 Vice Premier Ramon hit the airwaves with the question: “Wouldn’t it be the right deal today for the Palestinians, the Western world and the international community to recognise [Israel’s] annexation of .... [Jewish] neighbourhoods as part of Jerusalem, and for us to quit the Arab neighbourhoods?” (Hindu Times)

Many in the international community agree with a division or perhaps a restoration of the "International City" designation from 1949. (From About)

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 which called for the partition of the British-ruled Palestine into a independent Jewish State and an independent Arab State. The resolution also called for Jerusalem to be an international city, and neither Jewish nor Arab, administered by the U.N.'s (now defunct) Trusteeship Council, which would appoint a Governor of the City.

Bush support of ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and return to 1967 borders is not shared by a majority of Israelis according to a Jerusalem Post pole. The pole found that only 26 percent of Israelis support a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, while 66% oppose such a move. 29% favored a divided Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state, while 68 percent declared their support for a united Jerusalem under Israeli rule. This is underscored by two statements. One made from Benjamin Netanyahu to the President, "Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people and will remain under Israeli sovereignty for eternity." The second one is a cause for greater pause, it was made by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and denies Israels historic claims to the city.

The Israelis aren't the only ones feeling passionate about the President's visit. In protest Hamas has been firing rockets from Gaza into southern Israel, luckily no one has been killed from the attacks. According to the AP, while in the West Bank speaking earlier at the Muqata compound where the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was besieged by Israeli forces just a few years ago, Palestinian President Abbas hailed Bush as the first U.S. president to commit fully to back a Palestinian state. (emphasis added)

President Bush while in the West Bank visited the Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity: "Not only was my soul uplifted, but my knowledge of history was enriched."

While Bush finishes up his mideast tour garnering support for the peace process from key regional allies such as Egypt and begging the Arabs to lower oil prices in Israel a hawkish caucus within the parliament has delt a blow to peace by pulling out of Olmert's government. This spells trouble for an already tenous struggle for peace as the Jewish hardliners dissent over the possible division of Jerusalem. Another faction is threatening to leave the government if plans move forward to Divide the Holy City.

This only days after the Housing Ministry moved forward against the advice of the Israeli Attorney General for "expanding" a neighborhood that would in effect completely cut off East Jerusalem from Bethlehem. The Ministry refuses to call it a new "settlement" and insists it's part of the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem of 1968. Ironically the group that suffers the most from this development are not Palestinian Muslims but the Christian Community.

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