A prophetic speech?

Our view: President sidesteps Israeli-Palestinian conflict

May 18, 2008

The political commentators, top Democrats and their leading presidential contender couldn't say enough about President Bush's reference to Nazi appeasers during his speech last week to Israel's parliament. It was a perceived slap at Sen. Barack Obama's interest in talking to Iran and Syria - the evildoers the administration loves to hate - but it struck a chord on Israel's 60th anniversary because many of its citizens view Iran as their potential annihilator.

What got less attention was Mr. Bush's single reference to the Palestinians in his speech, and it resonated in a way the president's speechwriters probably never intended.

Looking ahead to Israel's 120th anniversary, Mr. Bush said, "The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved - a democratic state that is governed by law and respects human rights, and rejects terror." Here's what Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat heard: It would take another 60 years before a Palestinian state would emerge. His pessimism is not unwarranted. Despite Mr. Bush's commitment to bring Israelis and Palestinians to some agreement before he leaves office, little progress toward that end has been achieved. The administration's diplomacy has been too late and less than rigorous. The Islamic militant group Hamas retains its hold on the Gaza Strip and won't stop its border attacks against Israel. And the Israeli prime minister is now embroiled in a scandal.

Sixty years may not be soon enough.

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