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Bush calls for Arafat's removal

One has to question whether it is Arafat or Sharon who needs to be removed in the Middle East.  Bush calls for the Palestinians to remove Arafat with more empty promises about statehood.  There was a tense but peaceful conversation going on in the Middle East until Sharon visited the Wailing wall in September 2000 in a deliberate attempt to end the peace process.

Since that time there has been constant and increasing bloodshed that can be traced to Mr. Sharon's visit.

The Palestinians elected the man they thought could combat Sharon.  And the Israelis elected the man they thought could impose the Israeli agenda on the Palestinians.  

Now we have ongoing suicide bombings that have been the most effective strategy that the Palestinians have employed to date.  The interesting thing is that Palestinians are dying every day at the hands of the Israelis.  But with the suicide bombers we know exactly who will die.  In other words, whether Palestinians wait to be shot and bombed by the Israelis and hope they will not be the ones to die or select certain children to die for statehood, Palestinians are going to die.

The thing that concerns the Israelis is that these children are willing to die for statehood whereas fifty years ago the Israeli terrorists would attack people and blow up buildings with the hope of getting away and fighting another day.  These children's commitment is total.

The President's carrot of a Palestinian statehood in three years is just more rhetoric.  Who knows if he will even be President at that time.  The future is easy to promise.  The present is something else.

Maybe if the President had insisted that the Israelis rid themselves of Sharon and the Palestinians rid themselves of Arafat some real progress could be possible in the Middle East.  

In the meantime, the President continues to reaffirm his inability to effect any real solutions.  Sharon is actually the President's student with regards to ridding the world of terrorist.  What a sad state of affairs.  You can kill all the terrorist you want but until you actually address their grievance, there will be no hope for peace.

In sum, today the world was simply served up more of the same old empty rhetoric which has solved nothing in the last fifty-four years.

The solution is simple.  1) Palestinian statehood with the pre 1967 boundaries. 2) Jerusalem becomes the first international city under control of the United Nations. 3) The Jews be allowed to rebuild Solomon's Temple on the Temple mount next to the Dome of the Rock.

The United States of America is proof that Jews and Muslims can live together in peace and harmony.  But in America all citizens know that they have an opportunity to be heard.  There are laws that impose justice.  In the Middle East, the only way to be heard is by killing others and justice is just a word.

John WorldPeace
When peace becomes our priority, WorldPeace will become our reality.

June 24, 2002

Bush calls for Arafat's removal

.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (June 24) - President Bush urged the Palestinians Monday to replace Yasser Arafat with leaders ''not compromised by terror'' and to adopt democratic reforms that could produce an independent state within three years.

''Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership so that a Palestinian state can be born,'' Bush said at the White House.

In his long-anticipated speech, Bush said ''reform must be more than cosmetic changes or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo'' if the Palestinians are to fulfill their aspirations for a state alongside Israel.

Elections should be held by the end of the year for a legislature with normal authority and there also must be a constitution, Bush said as he set stiff conditions for a Palestinians state.

''When the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state, whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East,'' Bush said.

Senior administration officials said they envision the Palestinians being able to reach provisional statehood within 18 months and full permanent statehood in as soon as three years.

''With a determined effort, this state could rise rapidly - as it comes to terms with its neighbors on practical issues such as security,'' Bush said.

Israeli Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin, a close ally of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, interpreted Bush's formula as calling for the Palestinians to make the first moves. Rejecting a provisional state, Rivlin said Bush's proposal represented a ''vision of bringing the Palestinian people to democracy and reform, and then to negotiate.''

A senior Palestinian official said only Palestinians can choose their leadership - and already have in Arafat. ''President Bush must respect the choice of the Palestinian people,'' said Saeb Erekat, an Arafat aide.

Though his meaning was plain, Bush never spoke Arafat's name.

''I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders not compromised by terror,'' Bush said. ''Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing terrorism. This is unacceptable.''

Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine, he said. ''A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve the security that Israel longs for.''

Touching delicately on the thorniest issues, the president said Jerusalem's future and the plight of refugees must be addressed. But he offered no prescription.

''You have lived too long with fear and funerals,'' he said.

Addressing the Palestinian people, Bush said he understood how they could feel like pawns in the Middle East conflict. ''You deserve democracy and the rule of law,'' he said. ''You deserve a life for your children and an end to occupation.''

The president made his remarks in an afternoon speech in the Rose Garden, where he had announced in April that his administration would try to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Bush leaves Tuesday for a meeting in Canada with leaders of the world's other major industrialized democracies.

Two administration officials said that the secrecy surrounding Bush's address was driven in part by a fear that announcing the address could trigger a suicide bombing.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, stood alongside the president in stifling early summer heat. Bush and his advisers staked out a shady area.

Bush also demanded that Israel withdraw to positions it held on the West Bank two years ago and to stop building homes for Jews on the West Bank and in Gaza. Ultimately, he said, Israel should agree to pull all the way back to the lines it held before the 1967 Mideast war.

Terms of a provisional state and its international functions were left for negotiations between a reformed Palestinian leadership and Israel.

Bush said the United States, European Union, World Bank and International Monetary Fund stand ready to help oversee reforms in Palestinian finances.

''And the United States, along with our partners in the developed world, will increase our humanitarian assistance to relieve Palestinian suffering,'' he pledged.

Powell already was in consultation with Arab and Palestinian officials as the Bush plan was developed and is likely to return to the region for direct talks, a senior administration official said.

Bush will discuss his initiative with leaders of industrialized democracies at a G-8 meeting this week. Meanwhile, with intense conflict in the Middle East, the idea of a peace conference is being put on hold, another senior official said on condition of anonymity.

In the meantime, the administration renewed its support for Israel's self-defense, even as Israeli tanks encircled Arafat's badly damaged headquarters in Ramallah, on the West Bank, and Israel went on the offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza.

''Israel has a right to defend itself,'' State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. He also repeated the standard admonition that ''everybody has to be aware of the consequences of their actions.''