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Summing Up The Mis-Understandings

An editorial in HaTzofeh today summed up the fears of many Israelis regarding the Bush-Sharon understandings, as well as the summit's "negative achievements" from Israel's standpoint:
First Publish: 4/18/2004, 4:05 PM / Last Update: 4/16/2004, 3:31 PM

An editorial in HaTzofeh today summed up the fears of many Israelis regarding the Bush-Sharon understandings:

"Prime Minister Sharon calls his visit in Washington one of his greatest accomplishments of his political career. He points to President Bush's commitments, which include, 'Israel will not return to the Green Line, and the Arab refugees will not return to Israel.' True, these words indicate that Washington clearly backs the Jewish State - but when we delve more deeply, we see that this is not the first time that American presidents have made statements like this - and for the most part, their value is declarative only. They certainly cannot be depended on to guarantee American support for our annexation of large parts of Judea and Samaria.

"We cannot ignore the fact that the American President did not specify the name of any community that will remain Israeli. He did, however, emphasize his awareness of 'Israel's responsibility to restrict the growth of settlements...'

"Furthermore, Jerusalem - the capital of Israel - was not even mentioned. It is probably the first time that an Israeli Prime Minister did not mention Israel's unambiguous stand that all of Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the People of Israel, and that it is outside the bounds of any negotiations.

"Sharon also tried to distract our attention from Bush's ambiguous remarks regarding the Arab refugees. Bush said that a solution to this problem will 'need' to be found in the Palestinian state that will arise, 'rather' than in Israel...

"President Bush also emphasized several times that the current plan is subservient to the Road Map - which, it will be recalled, has never yet been amended according to Israel's demands. The 14 clauses that Israel wished to correct have never been touched. The Road Map, in its original version, simply does not meet Israel's requirements.

"Mr. Sharon is trying to present these understandings as an achievement in anticipation of the Likud referendum. But in concrete terms, there simply is no great achievement about which Israel can boast. Only two days before, Bush met with Egyptian President Mubarak, and did not mince words to satisfy him. It can be assumed that next week, in his meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, Bush will again find the right words to describe the 'special American-Jordanian' relationship..."

"Aside from his warm words towards Israel, President Bush promised nothing concrete. Sharon, on the other hand, promised to implement the Road Map, even without the Israeli amendments, and agreed to leave Jerusalem for final-status talks, and agreed to Bush's vague statement about the refugees, and agreed to his words about 'restricting settlements.' This, actually, was the main achievement of the Prime Minister's visit to Washington."