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Bush Backs Olmert

U.S. President Bush: 'Hamas Vision Is To Destroy Israel'

Palestinian Official A-Zahar: 'We Will Never Recognize Israel - Palestinian State Will Be Established Also In Haifa, Lod & Jaffa'

Bush Arrives In Israel Praising Prime Minister Olmert As 'Frank, Open & Honest Man'

President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert

U.S. President George W. Bush has returned to Israel - this time to mark Israel's 60th birthday. The American leader landed after declaring that Israel will have a 'strong friend and ally in America whoever is president'. Although plagued by a police investigation into campaign contributions, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was obviously delighted with the Bush visit and warmly welcomed the U.S. President. However, IsraCast notes that although the U.S. has been pushing hard for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, a leading Hamas official has vowed the Palestinians will never recognize Israel and will destroy the Zionist state.

President George W. Bush
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
President Shimon Peres

U.S. President George W. Bush is leading a bevy of international personalities who have convened for an impressive show of solidarity with the Jewish state as it celebrates its sixtieth year of independence. No less than eleven foreign presidents and such luminaries as Henry Kissinger and Michael Gorbachev are also on hand for the President's Conference convened by Israel's state president Shimon Peres. It reflects both the high standing that Shimon Peres enjoys as well as a tribute to Israel. But despite the trials and tribulations of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert these days, the turnout also reflects international recognition for the efforts the current government is making to try and move along the peace contacts with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank authority. It is hard to envisage so many international figures visiting Jerusalem, if Israel were perceived as a 'spoiler' on the diplomatic track.

But beyond the celebrations, President Bush has arrived at an auspicious time in the Israeli-Palestinian peace contacts. Prime Minister Olmert says he has made real progress with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from the West Bank. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been prodding both sides to advance on a permanent peace deal based on the Roadmap's two state solution. Moreover, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has been brokering a ceasefire deal between Israel and the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip. Bush is still optimistic that Israel and Abbas can wrap up the deal before he leaves office in less than nine months. The question is whether Olmert, who may be indicted for receiving alleged campaign contributions from Morris Talansky of New York, will still be in office to sell the deal to the Israeli public. For his part, Bush has thrown his weight solidly behind Olmert calling the Prime Minister a 'frank, honest and open man'. Moreover, Egyptian intelligence chief, Gen. Omar Suleiman has been working hard to to broker a ceasefire accord between Israel and Hamas controlled Gaza. While Bush is gung ho on the Abbas track, he sees Hamas as a different story. Bush told Channel 10 TV that 'Hamas cannot deliver its promises to the Palestinian people. The Hamas vision is to destroy Israel while the other Palestinian vision was to live in peace with Israel'.

Sheldon Adelson
Laura and George Bush
Bush and Peres

Within hours, Hamas official Mahmoud A-Zahar backed up Bush. At a Gaza rally marking what the Palestinians call the 'nakba' catastrophe of Israel, A-Zahar vowed that 'Palestinians would never recognize the Zionists - on the contrary they would pursue them forever. Moreover they would establish the Palestinian state on 'all Palestinian soil - Haifa, Jaffa and Lod' - that is present day Israel. In addition, the Palestinian refugees would soon implement their right of return to Israel.That was the message coming loud and clear from Hamas which expelled Mahmoud Abbas from Gaza last June.

The Syrian Nuclear Reactor - before and after

Iran: President Bush was asked if the Israeli destruction of the Syrian nuclear reactor on September 6th was also a message to Iran. He replied that the message was that Iran's desire for nuclear weapons coupled with its threat to destroy America's ally made it the biggest threat in the Middle East. Iran was also guilty of funding Hezbollah in Lebanon. The U.S. was using diplomacy and sanctions on Tehran to also dissuade it from destabilizing Iraq. Was a possible military attack still on the table? The President sidestepped the question adding ' I understand Israel's concern, you need to be!' However Bush concluded that not all nations share the anxiety of Israel and the U.S.

Someone else who is also very worried about Iran getting the bomb is former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger told the President's Conference that everything must be done to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.If it did, Iran would pose a threat not only to Israel but to the entire international community.

In any case, one outcome of the Bush visit will apparently be an American sale to Israel of a new radar system that will help the Israeli Arrow missile system to detect and destroy any Iranian missiles that could be launched at the Jewish state in the future. The new equipment would enable to intercept Iranian missiles at a much greater distance than at present.

 

David Essing

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