Crisis in the Middle East, continued
As a follow-up to last week, this week I am citing further
statements concerning the Crisis in the Middle East.
President George W. Bush…April 4, 2002
During the course of one week, the situation in the Middle East
has deteriorated dramatically. Last Wednesday, my special
envoy, Anthony Zinni, reported to me that we were on the verge
of a cease-fire agreement that would have spared Palestinian and
Israeli lives. That hope fell away when a terrorist attacked a
group of innocent people at a Netanya hotel, killing many men
and women in what is a mounting toll of terror.
In the days since, the world has watched with growing concern
the horror of bombings and burials and the stark picture of tanks
in the street. Across the world, people are grieving for Israelis
and Palestinians who have lost their lives.
When an 18-year-old Palestinian girl is induced to blow herself
up, and in the process kills a 17-year-old Israeli girl, the future
itself is dying, the future of the Palestinian people and the future
of the Israeli people.
We mourn the dead, and we mourn the damage done to the hope
of peace, the hope of Israel’s and the Israelis desire for a Jewish
state at peace with its neighbors, (as well as) the hope of the
Palestinian people to build their own independent state. Terror
must be stopped. No nation can negotiate with terrorists, for
there is no way to make peace with those whose only goal is
This could be a hopeful moment in the Middle East. The
proposal of Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, supported
by the Arab League, has put a number of countries in the Arab
world closer than ever to recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
The United States is on record supporting the legitimate
aspirations of the Palestinian people for a Palestinian state. Israel
has recognized the goal of a Palestinian state.
The outlines of a just settlement are clear: two states, Israel and
Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. This can be a
time for hope, but it calls for leadership, not for terror.
Since September 11, I’ve delivered this message: Everyone must
choose. You’re either with the civilized world or you’re with the
terrorists. All in the Middle East also must choose and must
move decisively in word and deed against terrorist acts.
The chairman of the Palestinian Authority has not consistently
opposed or confronted terrorists.
At Oslo and elsewhere, Chairman Arafat renounced terror as an
instrument of his cause, and he agreed to control it. He’s not
The situation in which he finds himself today is largely of his
own making. He’s missed his opportunities and thereby betrayed
the hopes of the people he’s supposed to lead.
Given his failure, the Israeli government feels it must strike at
terrorist networks that are killing its citizens. Yet, Israel must
understand that its response to these recent attacks is only a
temporary measure. All parties have their own responsibilities,
and all parties owe it to their own people to act.
We all know today’s situation runs the risk of aggravating long-
term bitterness and undermining relationships that are critical to
any hope of peace.
I call on the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority and
our friends in the Arab world to join us in delivering a clear
message to terrorists. Blowing yourself up does not help the
Palestinian cause. To the contrary, suicide-bombing missions
could well blow up the best and only hope for a Palestinian state.
All states must keep their promise, made in a vote in the United
Nations, to actively oppose terror in all its forms. No nation can
pick and choose its terrorist friends.
I call on the Palestinian Authority and all governments in the
region to do everything in their power to stop terrorist activities,
to disrupt terrorist financing, and to stop inciting violence by
glorifying terror in state-owned media or telling suicide bombers
they are martyrs.
They’re not martyrs. They’re murderers. And they undermine
the cause of the Palestinian people.
Those governments, like Iraq, which reward parents for the
sacrifice of their children are guilty of soliciting murder of the
All who care about the Palestinian people should join in
condemning and acting against groups like Al-Aqsa, Hezbollah,
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and all groups which oppose the peace
process and seek the destruction of Israel.
The recent Arab League support of Crown Prince Abdullah’s
initiative for peace is promising, is hopeful because it
acknowledges Israel’s right to exist. And it raises the hope of
sustained, constructive Arab involvement in the search for peace.
This builds on a tradition of visionary leadership begun by
President Sadat and King Hussein and carried forward by
President Mubarak and King Abdullah. Now other Arab states
must rise to this occasion and accept Israel as a nation and as a
Peace with Israel is the only avenue to prosperity and success for
a new Palestinian state. The Palestinian people deserve peace
and an opportunity to better their lives.
They need their closest neighbor, Israel, to be an economic
partner, not a mortal enemy. They deserve a government that
respects human rights and a government that focuses on their
needs, education and health care, rather than feeding their
It is not enough for Arab nations to defend the Palestinian cause.
They must truly help the Palestinian people by seeking peace and
fighting terror and promoting development.
Israel faces hard choices of its own. Its government has
supported the creation of a Palestinian state that is not a haven
for terrorism. Yet, Israel also must recognize that such a state
needs to be politically and economically viable.
Consistent with the Mitchell plan, Israeli settlement activity in
occupied territories must stop, and the occupation must end
through withdrawal to secure and recognize boundaries
consistent with United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338.
Ultimately, this approach should be the basis of agreements
between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon.
Israel should also show a respect – a respect for and concern
about the dignity of the Palestinian people who are and will be
their neighbors. It is crucial to distinguish between the terrorists
and ordinary Palestinians seeking to provide for their own
families. The Israeli government should be compassionate at
checkpoints and border crossings, sparing innocent Palestinians
Israel should take immediate action to ease closures and allow
peaceful people to go back to work.
Israel is facing a terrible and serious challenge. For seven days,
it has acted to rout out terrorists’ nests. America recognizes
Israel’s right to defend itself from terror.
Yet, to lay the foundations of future peace, I ask Israel to halt
incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas and begin the
withdrawal from those cities it has recently occupied.
I speak as a committed friend of Israel. I speak out of a concern
for its long-term security, the security that will come with a
As Israel steps back, responsible Palestinian leaders and Israel’s
Arab neighbors must step forward and show the world that they
are truly on the side of peace. The choice and the burden will be
The world expects an immediate cease-fire, immediate
resumption of security cooperation with Israel against terrorism,
and an immediate order to crack down on terrorist networks. I
expect better leadership, and I expect results.
These are the elements of peace in the Middle East, and now we
must build the road to those goals. Decades of bitter experience
teach a clear lesson: Progress is impossible when nations
emphasize their grievances and ignore their opportunities. The
storms of violence cannot go on. Enough is enough.
And to those who would try to use the current crisis as an
opportunity to widen the conflict, stay out. Iran’s arms
shipments and support for terror fuel the fire of conflict in the
Middle East, and it must stop. Syria has spoken out against al
Qaeda. We expect it to act against Hamas and Hezbollah, as
It’s time for Iran to focus on meeting its own people’s aspirations
for freedom and for Syria to decide which side of the war against
terrorism it is on.
The world finds itself at a critical moment. This is a conflict that
can widen or an opportunity we can seize.
And so, I’ve decided to send Secretary of State Powell to the
region next week, to seek broad international support for the
vision I’ve outlined today.
As a step in this process, he will work to implement United
Nations Resolution 1402 – an immediate and meaningful cease-
fire, an end to terror and violence and incitement; withdrawal of
Israel troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah;
implementation of the already-agreed-upon Tenet and Mitchell
plans, which will lead to a political settlement.
I have no illusions – we have no illusions – about the difficulty
of the issues that lay ahead. Yet our nation’s resolve is strong.
America is committed to ending this conflict and beginning an
era of peace.
We know this is possible, because in our lifetimes, we have seen
an end to conflicts that no one thought could end. We’ve seen
fierce enemies let go of long histories of strife and anger.
America itself counts former adversaries as trusted friends –
Germany and Japan and now Russia.
Conflict is not inevitable. Distrust need not be permanent. Peace
is possible when we break free of old patterns and habits of
The violence and grief that trouble the Holy Land have been
among the great tragedies of our time. The Middle East has
often been left behind in the political and economic advancement
of the world. That is the history of the region, but it need not –
and must not – be its fate.
The Middle East could write a new story of trade and
development and democracy. And we stand ready to help.
Yet this progress can only come in an atmosphere of peace. And
the United States will work for all the children of Abraham to
know the benefits of peace.
[Source: Washington Post / eMediaMillWorks]
Congressman Tom DeLay…excerpt from speech given 4/3/02
…We should begin by rejecting the idea that the United States
should somehow be a disinterested party mediating between two
good-natured nations earnestly striving for peace.
The time has come to drop the empty pretense that we can serve
the region as a mere broker. Israel is resisting a campaign of
The defense of freedom demands more from us than a value-
neutral brokerage. It is time for us to stand squarely against the
terrorist organizations which systematically attack Israel.
I commend the President for his principled and determined
leadership. Specifically, he is guiding us firmly in two important
ways. He is standing solidly with Israel. And he is resisting the
constant calls to force Israel back to the negotiating table where
they will be pressured to grant concessions to terrorists.
[Ed. note: This statement was made a day before Bush’s speech.]
No one should expect the people of Israel to negotiate with
groups pursuing the fundamental goal of destroying them.
During four decades of terrorism, Yasser Arafat has proven his
total contempt for human life. He is completely untrustworthy.
So, we should support Israel as they dismantle the Palestinian
leadership that foments violence and fosters hate. Arafat and his
Authority have been an impediment to peace and a threat to the
emergence of moderate Palestinian voices.
When suicide bombers target families praying over Passover
Seder, their objective cannot be peace. Their evil goal is to
eliminate anyone who doesn’t believe as they do.
We must be absolutely clear: Suicide bombings and other forms
of terrorism will never be tolerated by democratic countries.
Any group using these evil tactics denies any legitimacy to its
underlying cause or grievance.
The free world must never negotiate with terrorists. Suicide
bombings, specifically, and terrorism generally, are not a form of
resistance – they are cold-blooded murder.
This hellish strategy of destruction menaces far more than the
State of Israel. It is a threat to the entire civilized world.
Interview with Ali Safuri, Islamic Jihad leader…Jenin, 3/27/02
Q: Tell me step by step what needs to happen for you, for Islamic
Jihad, to then declare peace, to stop military actions?
A: I have cousins in Beirut, in Syria, in Saudi Arabia, in all the
countries of the world. It is their right to return to their country
and homeland. The son of Haifa has the right to return to his
town…The person who comes from America or Russia has the
right to live in Haifa and Tel Aviv, and the true son of Haifa and
Tel Aviv remains homeless and exiled. Is this justice? Where is
justice? Would you accept that for yourself? Would Bush
accept this? Or anybody in Europe accept that I come and kick
him out from his home, and replace him? No. No human being
would accept that, but instead would fight me…I too have a right
to my country. I will fight until I remove the occupation totally
Q: Right up to the sea?
A: Palestine from the river to the sea; that is our legitimate right
in this homeland. Yes.
Q: You mean all of Palestine?
A: All of Palestine. And we will not relinquish an iota of soil,
because this is pure and sanctified land…
Q: And the issue of the settlers?
A: The settlers have no right here in the West Bank. And they
have no right to live in any part of Palestine or the West Bank.
They have no right to live here…
Q: The American government has declared Hamas, Islamic
Jihad, and now Al Aqsa Brigades as terrorist organizations.
What’s your reaction to that?
A: …America is always side by side with the Zionist enemy, and
always stands in its support and wants to cast our people as
terrorists. But the truth is that ‘they’ are terrorists. This is clear
to everybody and to the whole world.
…America wants to run everything, because America rules the
world. But unfortunately, nobody in the world can speak against
America because they are afraid of America. But by God’s will
hopefully America will collapse and will not last long.
Hopefully soon, because it is an unjust rule in America and
because America stands with the oppressor against the
oppressed. They are the terrorists, we are not the terrorists.
We’re not terrorists…
Q: What do you think of the Saudi plan for peace?
A: …The Saudi initiative includes recognition of the State of
Israel. In the Palestinian lexicon, Israel has no place on the
Q: What will happen next because of President Bush’s “war on
terror”? What do you think the result of that will be?
A: In the next stage, the enemy has nothing left to use against us
but atomic weapons. The F-16 has hit and the Apache has hit…
Atomic weapons, and if the Zionist enemy uses atomic weapons,
definitely, the Zionist enemy will cease to exist and Palestinian
populations will be annihilated…If Israel were to annihilate all
the Palestinian population here with atomic weapons, Israel itself
would be automatically destroyed because of the scope of the
atomic destruction. So we are proud to be martyrs and that our
sons from outside come and continue our journey and live in this
[Source: PBS - “Frontline”]
Well, on that happy note. More depressing stuff next week, if
you keep it where it is.