Gaza Am Münster
Israelis Claim Seekrit Agreement With U.S.
A Green Light for Settlement Expansion?
A letter that President Bush personally delivered to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon four years ago has emerged as a significant obstacle to the president's efforts to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians during his last year in office.
Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli prime minister, said this week that Bush's letter gave the Jewish state permission to expand the West Bank settlements that it hopes to retain in a final peace deal, even though Bush's peace plan officially calls for a freeze of Israeli settlements across Palestinian territories on the West Bank. In an interview this week, Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed this understanding in a secret agreement reached between Israel and the United States in the spring of 2005, just before Israel withdrew from Gaza.
A PALESTINIAN VIEW (April 26, 2004)
The visit of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Washington on April 14, intended to solicit American support for Sharon's unilateral plan for Gaza and to formalize letters of assurances between Sharon and United States President George W. Bush, was an unprecedented affair, not only in Israeli-American relations, but in the history of American foreign policy. It is difficult to remember any previous occasion on which an American president so bluntly contradicted specific stipulations of United Nations Security Council resolutions and international law.
This came as a shock, not only to Palestinians, but to Arabs in general, especially that Bush's statements were made only days after his meeting with the president of the largest and most important Arab state, Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, and while Mubarak was still in the country. This signaled to the Arabs that the United States is ready to offer an extraordinary level of support for Israel even when Israel's demands contradict international legality, and--most stunningly--that American Middle East policy gives no weight at all to American relations with the Arab world.
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