As President Bush Meets with the Palestinian and Israeli Prime Ministers for the first time, a debate on U.S. involvement on the Middle East. Henry Siegman calls Sharon a “destructive force” and recalls Sharon is the “granddaddy” of the settlement movement, which was designed to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.
Today, President Bush convenes a three-way meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers.
At the close of the summit, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon plans to voice support for the creation of an interim, demilitarized Palestinian state under the so-called road map to peace.
Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas will declare that the Palestinians are ready to immediately start implementing the U.S.-backed plan. Abbas will also urge Palestinian militants to lay down their arms. This according to Haaretz.
The meeting marks the first time leaders from both sides of the Palestine-Israeli conflict have met since the onset of the Intifada in November of 2000. It is also the first meeting between the President and any representative from the Palestinian Authority.
Bush has succeeded in sidelining Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from the process. Israel has long insisted Arafat be removed from his leadership position, and the White House did not invite Arafat to the talks.
Yesterday, Bush met with Arab leaders in Egypt. He said Israel must “deal with” their settlements on Palestinian land.
Senior Likud party member Reuven Rivlin told an Israeli newspaper Sharon is planning to evacuate some 17 relatively minor settlements to allow a Palestinian state contiguous territory. But he will insist on keeping several other major settlements in the occupied territories.
Phase One of the so-called “roadmap to peace” calls on Israel to dismantle illegal settlements and withdraw from zones in the occupied territories.
Joining us to discuss the President’s trip and the peace process are three of our nation’s leading experts on the conflict.
- Roane Carey, editor of The Nation magazine, editor of The New Intifada: Resisting Apartheid in Israel and co-editor of The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent
- Norman Finkelstein, political science professor at DePaul University in Chicago. He is also author of Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict and The Holocaust Industry
- Henry Siegman, senior fellow at The Council on Foreign Relations. He is the former director of the American Jewish Congress is the author of over a hundred articles and essays on the Middle East.