Tuesday, July 29, 2003

So who convinced Bush this week? I'd have to say Ariel Sharon for several reasons.

- The Seperation Wall
On Friday, Mr. Bush called the seperation wall a "problem." He vowed to discuss the problem with Mr. Sharon, but did not state his opposition to it. On Tuesday, Mr. Bush was convinced: he dismissed a "long term fence" as "irrelevant," but called it the focus of fight terror. He also did not use the Palestinians' adoption of the term "wall" and instead used Israel's use of the word "fence."

Also, before Mr. Sharon left for Washington, he let it know that the part of the wall that will protect settlements and grab the most land will not be built for at least 6 months. Mr. Sharon thinks that in 6 months the peace process will have failed and violence will have started again. At that time, he will use the violence as an excuse to grab more land in the name of security.

- Terror groups
In Friday's speech, Mr. Bush praised Mr. Abbas for vowing to fight and end terrorism. It wasn't the most important topic and it was pushed away from the forefront. The next day, the State Department even came up with another way to end the control of terror groups (disarm military wings, leave political wings). Mr. Bush used phrases as " ending terrorists activity" but on Tuesday he changed his language. He talked about "threat of terrorist groups" and "[going]after organizations such as Hamas." He dismissed a continuation of a truce--ridiculed it, in fact--and said that "there will be no peace if terrorism flourishes. There's no peace. It's a contradiction in terms. Terrorists are against peace. Terrorists kill innocent life to prevent peace from happening. The way to make sure peace happens is for all of us to work to dismantle those who would like to kill. Those are called terrorists."

- Re-election for Bush
In the last few weeks, Mr. Bush's polls have dropped to pre-9/11 ratings. He's trying to get more support by supporting Sharon, not confronting him. He's trying to attract Jewish votes--who vote mostly liberal--and re-gaining support from the Christian right. They have been dissappointed by Bush's criticism of Sharon in 2001 regarding Jenin and 2003 regarding the attempted assassination on Hamas leader Rantassi.

Concluding, Mr. Abbas failed where Mr. Sharon succeeded. Sharon tied the built-up of the wall to terrorism and changed the overall agenda from occupation (Abbas' stand) to terrorism. Tuesday it rained compliments and praise for Mr. Sharon and Mr. Bush failed to mention the removal and freezing of settlements and outposts.


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