A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
July 16 , 2007 Bush Speaks/ Olmert and Abbas Meet
President Bush gave a nice speech today. He spoke about the choices the Palestinians have to make. Bush made it clear that in order to achieve a Palestinian state they must either renounce Hamas or Hamas must renounces its positions on Israel. On the practical side, Bush stated the United States would increase its aid to the Palestinian Authority, including a combination of loans and grants totaling $190 million. The United States also announced it would sponsor an international conference to help restart the peace process this fall. President Bush also called on Israel to develop the Galilee and the Negev and not try to settle the West Bank any further.
There were only a few problems with President Bush’s speech. First, it was very selective. Bush spoke of how the Palestinians elected a President who was committed to peace. He ignored, however, how US pressure for the elections led to the Hamas electoral victory. Second, Bush ignored the warning of US intelligence agencies that Abbas is not strong enough to reach any agreement. Of course, unfortunately, the biggest problem is at this point, it is President George Bush who has very little status. While its not likely that any of Bush’s outlined strategies will work- it’s certainly worth a try. There is nothing to lose… since no one has come up with any alternative plan.
Israeli Channel 10 reported tonight that Haim Ramon is pushing a plan for a limited withdrawal … from 70% of the West Bank … Not a one sided withdrawal, but a negotiated withdrawal … one that would allow Abbas to show real progress.
Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas met today. It was mostly a formulistic meeting, but Israeli sources say that the Palestinians were positive and felt some progress was made. Yesterday’s decision to remove members of the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade from Israel’s wanted lists was a significant move. It was supposedly agreed to last week in a meeting in Ramallah between Abbas and the head of the Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin. The Palestinians are still awaiting Israel’s list of the 250 prisoners to be released. Supposedly, Olmert promised Abbas that this would not be the last prisoner release.
For those who have had a hard time studying Israel, the opening minute of London and Kischbaum was instructive … as both commentators remarked how hard the Hebrew language is. They gave examples from the mistakes Shimon Peres made speaking yesterday … mistakes that were the result of reading certain words wrong. The anchors stated that it takes 25% longer to read Hebrew than most other languages … due to the lack of vowels. According to the pair (L & K), Naomi Shemer tried to convince “the powers that be” of the necessity to add more vowels to Hebrew words.
See the State Department release on support for the Palestinians.