Tough times ahead for Israel

This Washington Times editorial considers President Bush’s statement that, once Saddam Hussein is removed, Israel and the Palestinians will be able to implement Bush’s “road map” for Mideast peace. Bush has decreed that, “as the terror threat is removed and security improves,” Israel will be expected to support the creation of a Palestinian state, move towards a final-status agreement, and end “settlement activity” in the occupied territories. The Times points to the real world obstacles to this scenario, the primary one being the fact that “there is no evidence that the Palestinian masses are prepared to compromise with Israel” and therefore no reason why Israel should make any concessions. Plainly, Bush has no legitimate basis for believing that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein will lead to a change in the rejectionist philosophy of the Palestinians. Indeed, Bush’s statements suggesting that Israel will be expected to support the creation of a Palestinian state will only ensure that the Palestinians continue to embrace that philosophy. The Palestinians are counting on Bush to lean on Israel in order to mollify Arab states and the “Arab street” (not to mention Europe) in the aftermath of an attack on, and occupation of, Iraq. If Bush accommodates them, and I believe he will, Israel will face extraordinary peril, and one terrorist-supporting Middle East dictatorship will be replaced by another.

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