Prime Minister Sharon has long boasted that Bush has promised him that he would support Israel's right to retain large settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria in any final-status arrangement. However, Shteinitz said, Bush's remarks on Thursday represent "a regression even from previous American positions in favor of UN Resolution 242, which talked about 'defensible borders.'"
In fact, Bush referred not to the 1967 borders, but rather to the 1949 Armistice Lines, which are even less generous to Israel in some areas. Aluf Benn's article on the topic is excerpted here.
"It is deception and misleading of the public," Shteinitz said, "when Prime Minister Sharon claimed that the United States and Bush would support the Israeli position in talks after the disengagement..."
Shteinitz further said, "Abu Mazen is doing nothing against terrorism, as the Shabak (GSS), and even Sharon himself, have said. The opposite: he is allowing Hamas and the terrorist organizations to get stronger, and even to run in the elections. And this same Abu Mazen receives compliments in Washington for his opposition to terrorism."
MK Yitzchak Levy (Religious Zionism Renewal Party) said, "The lie that Sharon has been disseminating about American commitments to maintain the settlement blocs has exploded. Once again, Sharon receives a spit in the face, and yet he still runs as if being chased to expel thousands of Jews from their homes, receiving nothing in return."
Associate Prime Minister Shimon Peres said Friday morning that the Bush "promise" regarding Israel's right to retain large settlement blocs no longer exists, for all intents and purposes. Peres explained that this is because Bush made sure to say in the press conference with Abu Mazen on Thursday that the future of the areas requires Palestinian Authority agreement.
Analyst Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA notes other major gains for the PA following the White House meeting, and one minor gain for Israel. Among the PA achievements are:
* Explicit reference to Jerusalem in the phrase "Israel should not undertake any activity that... prejudice final status negotiations with regard to Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem."
* Acceptance of validity of a "terror" party running in the elections.
* Implicit acceptance of the PA position that the "punishment" for murdering Israelis is a day job in the PA security forces.
On the other hand, Bush showed understanding for Israel's demand to control airspace and sea ports in Gaza - at least until conditions change enough to warrant more Israeli trust of the PA. This could even include control of the Philadelphi Route on the southern Gaza border, Lerner feels.