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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, January 04, 2008

 

Bush: "Mr. Olmert, tear down these walls." http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/world/middleeast/05mideast.html?ex=1357189200&en=de6dc1d4090b524a&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, January 04, 2008 permalink View blog reactions
Kudos to the President for making a clear and unambiguous statement:


Mr. Bush praised the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, for honesty, but said he expected Israel to keep its promises to dismantle outposts illegal under Israeli law that were built after March 2001. “The Israeli government has said that they’re going to get rid of unauthorized settlements, and that’s what we expect, that’s what we’ve been told,” Mr. Bush said. “We expect them to honor their commitments.”

Mr. Bush suggested that some Israeli settlements were bound to be kept by Israel in any peace agreement, which would define final borders. “But the unauthorized settlements, which is different from the authorized settlements, is an issue we’ve been very clear on,” he said.

When Ariel Sharon was prime minister, he promised Mr. Bush personally that all Israeli outposts built after he took office in March 2001 would be dismantled before the next elections. Mr. Olmert was his deputy and said he would keep the commitment, which is also part of Israel’s obligations under the first stage of the 2003 “road map” for peace.

But two years ago this Friday, shortly before those elections, Mr. Sharon suffered a severe stroke and Mr. Olmert was elected instead. And the outposts in question — more than 20 of them — have not been dismantled, but have grown.

In fact many more such outposts unauthorized by the Israeli government were built before March 2001. The Palestinians, and much of the world, regard all Israeli settlements in land occupied in the 1967 war to be illegal under international law, including East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed.


Unfortunately, Olmert has to pay tribute to the extremist settler political bloc, in much the same way that the Democratic candidates must soothe the progressive left with insincere talk of Iraq withdrawals. That's unfortunate however because the settler movement has done major harm to Israel's economy and security.

President Bush, however, is seeking a legacy that isn't defined solely by Iraq, and it's possible that he has decided that the Palestinian issue must be resolved on his watch. If so, he will indeed be remembered as having truly remade the middle east.

One advantage that Bush has over his predecessors? Close ties with the Saudis - whose peace proposal remains the best route to peace. But even that is not a complete solution. There's hard work ahead, and maybe only a President of the United States can spur all parties involved.

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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.