Podhoretz in defense of Bush, Sharon and himself.

By Ted Belman

ted-4.jpgNorman Podhoretz, as you will recall, was a staunch supporter of GW Bush, and is staying the course, and was in support of Sharon’s Disengagement.

He now replies to his critics of both these positions, in his Commentary article, Israel and the Palestinians:Has Bush Reneged?. Anyone interested in the peace process from its beginning in Madrid should read this very informative article. He begins,

    On June 24, 2002, George W. Bush, having already become the first American President to come out openly and officially for the establishment of a Palestinian state, attached two stern conditions to that new policy. The United States, he declared, “will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.” This commitment constitutes what I have called the “Fourth Pillar” of the Bush Doctrine, and many friends of Israel now believe that Bush has reneged on it.


These critics had argued that Annapolis had undermined if not destroyed this pillar. Annapolis reversed the order inherent in the June 24th speech and explicit in the Roadmap, requiring final status issues to be discussed prior to the end of terror.

In discussing the State Department inspired Roadmap he fails to mention the inclusion of the Saudi Plan as a governing principle along with Res 242 and Res 338. This failure is a big one because that Plan has dominated the negotiations rather than the Resolutions.

Secondly he fails to appreciate, or even mention, one of the adverse consequences of arriving at a “shelf agreement”. It is wrong to argue that it won’t be enforced until the Palestinians end terror, because its mere existence will require Israel not to violate it by putting contrary facts on the ground. Thus for Israel, it won’t be business as usually. Israel will be even more bound not to build on any land now held in trust for the Palestinians. Israel will use such agreement as its justification to its own people to prevent such building and even to start encouraging its people to move back.

Secure vs Defensible borders

Res 242 permitted Israel to remain in occupation until it had “secure and recognized borders”. This was always understood to mean defensible borders. Dore Gold, of JCPA, has written extensively on what such borders should be. But in January, (I am looking for the link) Livni when challenged that the fence line, let alone the armistice line, was not a defensible border, made a distinction that I had never heard before, even from her. She rejected the notion of defensible borders in favour of borders which would be secure due to the agreements being reached.

Podhoretz, in defense of Bush’s slippage at Annapolis pointed out that Bush redeemed himself in his Jan 10/08 speech. He wrote,

    Initially, the Bush administration did not look with favor upon this demand (“It’s not going to happen,” declared a White House official). But then, in his speech in Jerusalem on January 10 of this year, Bush signaled a change that has gone curiously unnoticed by friends of Israel:

    These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent. [emphasis added]

    By adding for the first time the word “defensible” to the “secure and recognized borders” he had specified in his previous statements, Bush was for all practical purposes endorsing continued Israeli control over the Jordan Valley; and by reiterating that the Palestinian state must be “contiguous,” he was saying that, contrary to Palestinian objections, a way could be found to reconcile these two requirements.

As Podhoretz, acknowledges, time will tell.

April 7, 2008 | Comments »

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