But missing entirely from Mr Bush's words was any understanding of why the Israeli/Palestinian problem has come to its present dangerous pass. There were no references to its deep roots, nor to the negative influence of Ariel Sharon on more recent events. Even when he mentioned implementation of the Mitchell Report, which called for an end to Israeli settlements building, he did not say that Mr Sharon specifically rejected that recommendation on the day the report was published. Nor did he mention that it was Mr Sharon who opted for confrontation rather than the peace process shortly after he came to office. President Bush's statement was far from even-handed. He failed to criticise Israel in any way and he did all he could to weaken Yassir Arafat's position. He showed no sense of the history of this conflict, preferring to characterise it as either you're with the civilized world or with the terrorists. We heard this either/or formulation in the immediate aftermath of September 11 but it is a crude way to approach the complexities of the Middle East. The seeds of this dispute were sown long before anyone had heard of a suicide bomber.
The American administration has been under considerable pressure domestically and internationally in recent days to bring its influence to bear on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Fundamental to the belief that the US has this power is the assumption that it is the only nation which Israel respects and will listen to. But there was nothing in Mr Bush's statement that gave any hope that he sees the need to use this influence to speak as plainly to Israel as he does to the Palestinians. He is sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Middle East next week to try to bring about a cease-fire and create the conditions for a restart of negotiations. Mr Powell has been given an unenviable assignment: if he follows Mr Bush's line he will not be going as the even-handed negotiator that the situation needs but as a representative of a US administration that has already decided who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. At the end of his statement to the press yesterday Mr Bush turned quickly away to make clear he would not answer any questions. But a lone American voice shouted one question to his back. It was Why now?
The content of comment is the opinion of users and netizens and not of mallorcadailybulletin.com.
Comments contrary to laws, which are libellous, illegal or harmful to others are not permitted');
mallorcadailybulletin.com - reserves the right to remove any inappropriate comments.
Please remember that you are responsible for everything that you write and that data which are legally required can be made available to the relevant public authorities and courts; these data being name, email, IP of your computer as well as information accessible through the systems.