Tilting back towards the Israelis

The Jerusalem Post reports on President Bush’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. According to the report, Bush toned down the administration’s criticism of Israel for building a securty fence designed to keep Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating Israeli towns. Previously, Bush had described the fence as a “problem.” This time, he urged Israel to be mindful of the consequences of its actions, but did not directly criticize the construction of the fence. Instead, says the Post, he appeared amenable to the fence provided that the interests of affected Palestinian farmers are accommodated, something Sharon said he would try to do.
Bush also reaffirmed America’s commitment “to the security of Israel as a Jewish state.” Israeli officials read this as opposition to the Palestinian demand that refugees be allowed to return to Israel as part of a final peace settlement. This issue, as I said the other day, is probably the single most one to Israel.
I can’t claim any real ability to interpret or explain the variations in the White House’s pronouncements on the peace process. My sense is that the pronouncements tend to be pretty good when Bush is focused and involved and pretty bad when he is not.


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