What was the Middle East plan put forth by Pres. Bush in June 2002?
US Government Photo
Pres. George Bush
On June 24, 2002 US President George Bush put forward a new United States policy formulation for the Middle East. For the first time Bush stated that the Palestinian Arab regime under Yassir Arafat was not acceptable to the US as the leadership of any future Palestinian Arab state. The US does support the idea of a Palestinian state for the benefit of the Palestinian people, but not as a platform for continued terror against Israel or other peaceful states.
Before the US will support the emergence of a sovereign Palestinian state — to exist side by side with Israel, Jordan and other neighbors — Pres. Bush set forth a list of conditions to be met to indicate that the Palestinian state will be a peaceful country, contributing to regional stability and economic development.
The list of conditions included:
- Election of new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror
- Build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty
- Entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism
- A new constitution which separates the powers of government
- A Palestinian parliament having the full authority of a legislative body
- Local officials and government ministers, chosen in fair, multi-party local elections, with authority of their own and the independence to govern effectively
- End of official corruption in Palestinian institutions
- A major project of economic reform
- Effective courts of law where Palestinians can defend and vindicate their rights
- A system of reliable justice with a truly independent judiciary
- Palestinian leaders who engage in a sustained fight against terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure
- Rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services
- Come to terms with Israel, Egypt and Jordan on practical issues, such as security
This long list of conditions reflects the miserable extent of the terrorism, corruption and despotism of the Palestinian Arab regime under Yassir Arafat. In this speech, Pres. Bush for the first time revealed the depth of disgust that the United States had for the failures and perfidy of Arafat and his cronies.
In addition, Pres. Bush gave a message to the Palestinian Arabs and other countries who are currently encouraging or supporting terrorism by Palestinian Arabs or other groups such as Hezbollah:
- All states must end incitement to violence in official media, and publicly denounce homicide bombings
- All states must stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel
- All states must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to terrorist groups, and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq
- Syria must close terrorist camps and expel terrorist organizations
- Arab states will be expected to build closer ties of diplomacy and commerce with Israel, leading to full normalization of relations between Israel and the entire Arab world
Assuming that these concrete steps are taken, and a new climate of security and cooperation is established, then Israel will be expected to begin withdrawals from Palestinian Arab areas and enter into negotiations for a final status agreement. A sovereign Palestinian Arab state could finally emerge allowing the Palestinian Arab people to recover from the decades of disastrous leadership that has doomed them to failure. Since the Israelis have repeatedly engaged in such negotiations in the past — including comprehensive offers to Arafat at Camp David and Taba — Pres. Bush emphasized the conditions for the Palestinians, who had been and continued to be the obstacle to peace.
In comments after the speech, Arafat and backers of the Palestinian Arabs tended to read it very selectively. They like the vision of sovereignty in the foreseeable future, but they ignored or downplayed the long list of changes that Bush demands. Others said that the US should not tell the Palestinian Arabs how to run their country; Pres. Bush and Sec. Powell replied that Palestinian Arabs can make their own choices, but don’t expect US support without serious, permanent reform.