Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bill Clinton vs. Bush On Middle East Peace (Updated)

James Baker, as one of 5 former Secretaries of State who offer advice to Hillary Clinton, advises that:
I think it's important for Sen. Clinton to tackle the Arab-Israeli issue early. I happen to believe that both her husband and President George W. Bush waited too long.
One could make such a claim about Bush...but about Bill Clinton?

Emanuele Ottolenghi responds with a lengthy list that belies Bakers claim. Keep in mind that Clinton took office in 1993:
September 13, 1993: Clinton hosts the Oslo accords ceremony at the White House.

May 4, 1994: His Secretary of State Warren Christopher contributes to the finalizing of the Cairo Agreement in an all-night session that leads, after a famous last minute onstage Arafat dance, to the signing of the Gaza-Jericho deal.

June 25, 1994: Presides over the signature of the Washington Declaration, a statement that formed the basis for the later peace accord between Israel and Jordan.

October 26, 1994: Attends the signing ceremony of the Jordan-Israel peace agreement.

September 28, 1995: Hosts the signing of the so-called Oslo-II agreement in Washington.

November 6, 1995: Flies to Israel to attend Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral and delivers an emotional speech to the world.

March 13, 1996: Attends the Sharm El Sheikh “Peacemakers” summit to rally support for beleaguered Israeli PM Shimon Peres after four horrific terror attacks have undermined his bid for re-election in Israel.

April 30, 1996: Hosts Peres in Washington in a high-profile meeting designed to help Peres’s election bid.

October 2, 1996: Summons Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, and King Hussein to the White House for a two day emergency summit to quell violence between Israel and the PA.

October 15-22, 1998: Hosts a week of talks at the Wye River Plantation that finally yield–thanks to the continuous presence and active engagement of the President–the Wye Accords.

February 8, 1999: Attends King Hussein’s funeral in Amman

December 8, 1999: Opens the Shepherdstown talks between Israeli and Syrian delegations.

March 27, 2000: Flies to Geneva to meet Syrian President, Hafez el Assad, in an effort to seize an agreement between Syria and Israel.

June 1, 2000: Meets with Israel’s PM Ehud Barak in Lisbon for two hours.

July 12-24, 2000: Hosts Camp David Summit (and delays his departure for the G-8 Summit in Japan), giving his active input throughout the talks.

October 8, 2000: Sends Madeleine Albright to Paris to help resolve the outbreak of the Intifada.

October 17, 2000: Attends the Sharm El Sheikh summit designed to seize a ceasefire between Israel and the PA.

23 December 23, 2000: Issues the “Clinton Parameters” for peace in the Middle East.

On top of all this, Clinton was the first U.S. president to have visited Israel twice in his time in office. He was the only U.S. President ever to visit Gaza, where he addressed the Palestinian Legislative Council in December 1998. Yasser Arafat was the most frequent visitor to the White House under his presidency: 12 times in 8 years. His two secretaries of State came to the region dozens of times, and his special envoy to the Middle East, Ambassador Dennis Ross, was in Israel, the territories, and adjacent countries perhaps hundreds of times.
And we all know what all this got Bill Clinton: He told Arafat
I am a failure and you have made me one
Whatever mistakes may be ascribed to President Bush--despite clearly pushing for something tangible towards the end, he did not bet the farm on the Palestinian Arabs and their leaders.

Far from ignoring the Arab-Israeli issue, Bush did the following: (1) became in 2002 the first U.S. president to endorse a Palestinian state as a matter of official policy; (2) translated the policy in 2003 into a Road Map approved by the UN, the EU, Russia, the Palestinian Authority and Israel; (3) negotiated with Israel in 2004 on the Gaza Disengagement Deal (and got West Bank settlements dismantled to demonstrate it would not stop with Gaza); (4) supported a Palestinian election in 2005 to endorse a new leader pledged to dismantling terrorist groups; (5) permitted all parties to participate in the 2006 elections to give Palestinians a choice between the “peace partner” party and the premier terrorist group; (6) scuttled the first two phases of the Road Map in 2007, in order to keep the process going, even after the Palestinians elected their premier terrorist group; (7) convened a worldwide conference in Annapolis in 2007 to begin a year-long period of final status negotiations; and (8) had his Secretary of State make umpteen trips in 2006-2008 to push the negotiations.
The bottom line concludes Richman:
During the entire 14-year process, not a single terrorist organization was dismantled. The problem was most certainly not U.S. presidents who “waited too long.”
Of course, to admit such a thing would be to hold the Palestinian Arabs actually responsible for something in this mess--ant that is just not going to happen.

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