Bush: Gaza Pullout to ´Benefit Israel´s Security´

President Bush, banking on the expulsion plan to help the U.S. solve its dilemma in Iraq, states that leaving Gaza would strengthen Israel's security, even as Rice fears it will help terrorists.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 15:04

The American president sent a message to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, telling her to note his "respect and admiration" for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and added that the plan to give the entire Gaza region to the Palestinian Authority (PA) will "benefit Israel's security."

Bush's statement came hours before Arab terrorists unleashed a new barrage of terror, gunning down an Israeli couple and attempting another suicide bombing. At the same time, Rice worried that Gaza "will not once again be used' for terror bases.

President Bush in the past has boosted the expulsion/withdrawal plan for political and diplomatic reasons, and claiming it will bolster Israel's security is at odds with almost every military and intelligence assessment. They predict a sharp escalation in terror, not only from Gaza but also from Judea and Samaria following the forced evacuation of 9,000 civilians and the withdrawal of IDF troops, which terrorist leaders already have said will be a reward for terrorism.

Pulling out of Gaza would be "a major foreign policy victory" for the U.S., which needs stronger international support in Iraq, according to the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

"For a White House in search of democracy in the Arab world, resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the best hope," the newspaper stated.

It noted that two recent appointments of financial leaders are key pins in boosting Bush's image. Paul Wolfowitz, one of the backers of the war in Iraq, is the new president of the World Bank, and James Wolfensohn is Bush's special envoy to manage the Gaza disengagement.

He has received pledges for $9 billion to be used in Gaza, and Bush hopes this will be a stepping stone for the American government to receive financial help in Iraq. The World Bank has promoted joint Israel-PA projects for the future, all of which could explode in failure if terrorism escalates.

"Bush needs to give Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas something to claim as a victory, or risk undermining his fragile government," noted the Times.