Reversing the administration’#146;s earlier course in the Middle East, PresidentBush has chosen to enter the tragic conflict between the Palestinians and theIsraelis.
President Bush has demanded that Israel withdraw from the West Bank and calledfor Yasir Arafat and the Arab nations to take a more active role in combatingterrorism. Bush feels that this is necessary if they are to have any hope increating a Palestinian state.
This statement may lead President Bush to play an active and central role asa mediator for peace. Up to this point, President Bush appears to have attemptedto avoid this role.
Arafat said in response to President Bush’#146;s statements that he will acceptthe president’#146;s remarks. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, however,said that the military actions in the West Bank will continue.
Bush also said that he is sending Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to theMiddle East. He will work with General Anthony C. Zinni who has been engagedin talks between Israel and Arafat.
A major reason for President Bush’#146;s change in policy is the fear thatallies of the United States, Egypt and Jordan, are facing destabilizing protests.
President Bush acknowledges the Arafat will have a central role in the upcomingtalks. However, Bush said that Arafat, and the Arab nations can not have a blindeye to the acts of terrorism that have occurred in the Middle East. They havenever, according to Bush, seriously looked into creating a politically and economicallystable Palestine.
On the other hand, President Bush called for Israel to have a greater respectfor the Palestinian people and distinguish between terrorists and ordinary Palestinians.
Ultimately, Arafat, the Arab nations, Sharon, and Israel must decide whetheror not to accept Bush’#146;s attempt to establish peace in the region.
Powell is already scheduled for a trip to Europe, and it was decided that hewill travel to the Middle East later this week. The Secretary of State willmeet with Palestinian and Israeli officials as well as King Abdullah of Jordan,Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.