Better Late Than Never: GWB

Better Late Than Never: GWB gave his long awaited speech about a “provisional Palestinian state” and took a much more uncompromising stance with the Palestinians than was anticipated….

“I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty….

And 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.

In the work ahead, we all have responsibilities. The Palestinian people are gifted and capable, and I am confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation. A Palestinian state will never be created by terror — it will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.

Today, the elected Palestinian legislature has no authority, and power is concentrated in the hands of an unaccountable few. A Palestinian state can only serve its citizens with a new constitution which separates the powers of government. The Palestinian parliament should have the full authority of a legislative body. Local officials and government ministers need authority of their own and the independence to govern effectively.

The United States, along with the European Union and Arab states, will work with Palestinian leaders to create a new constitutional framework, and a working democracy for the Palestinian people. And the United States, along with others in the international community will help the Palestinians organize and monitor fair, multi-party local elections by the end of the year, with national elections to follow.

…Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.

First of all, let me give GWB credit for laying out a fairly comprehensive set of reforms for the Palestinians to meet. I wish he would have been this clear about what the Pals have to do to get a state to begin with. Furthermore, this speech makes it clear that there isn’t going to be a Palestinian nation with Arafat running the show and that the Palestinians, not just the Israelis, have a lot of work to do to solve the problems in the region. Also, just in case anyone takes Arafat seriously these days, it kills the idea of immediately implementing the “Clinton Plan” from 2000.

Overall, this was a much better speech than I expected and I’m pleased with it. However, do keep on mind that it would probably be easier to teach a cat to do calculus than for the Palestinians to actually implement any of the things Bush was talking about. Therefore, I’m not sure that we’re any closer to a real solution to the conflict in the Middle East than we were yesterday. However, any speech that thrills the Israelis and dispirits the Palestinians this much is a good start.

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