Bush’s Mideast Plan: Why the Earth Did Not Shake

Bush’s Mideast Plan: Why the Earth Did Not Shake

Did you feel the earth shake after President George W. Bush took to the podium on Monday and announced he would work to propel the Mideast peace process by calling an international meeting this fall? No? That's because the proposal was simply not earth-shaking. The call, made gravely, in a speech filled with heady talk of pivotal choices, and peace, and decency and hope, does not amount to a grand strategy for reaching an Arab-Israeli agreement. Instead, Washington's proposal represents one tactical piece in the very limited, focused, and trouble-filled plan to prop up the unpopular government of Mahmoud Abbas, whose sovereignty extends only to the West Bank.

To all who want Palestinians and Israelis to reach a peace agreement and make the two-state solution a reality, last month's violent takeover of Gaza by the uncompromising Islamic Resistance Movement, known by the acronym Hamas, showed just how easily a bad situation can turn much, much worse. The possibility that Hamas could launch a similarly successful take over of the West Bank is a terrifying prospect. It would spell disaster, and possibly immediate war.

Take a look at a map and you will see why. The West Bank lies within a few miles of the major population centers of Israel. Having Hamas, a group sworn to the destruction of Israel and backed by Iran, in control of the Gaza strip is troubling enough. Having it within seven miles of major Israeli cities would be intolerable.

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