Palestinians expressed dissatisfaction with statements made by the
United States President George W. Bush supporting Israel on keeping
control over the Settlements built on the West Bank land.
Hassan Abu Libdeh, a senior Palestinian Authority
official said such statements are a clear indication that the U.S. is
partner to Israel and not a peace broker.
‘This American stance sends a clear message to the Palestinians that
the United States is a partner to Israel and cares only about the
Israeli interests. It is not an honest broker to the Peace
Process’ Abu Libdeh said.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Spokesman of the Palestinian Authority said that
since all settlements are built on occupied land, ‘it is wrong to
legalize any settlement activity or any existing settlement’
Musheer Al-Masri, spokesman of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas,
stated that the U.S. is not fair in dealing with this case.
‘The United States was not fair in dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict, it showed as usual a complete bias to Israel’ he said.
On the other hand, other Palestinian officials welcomed Bush’s call for
Israel to respect the Road Map commitments that states settlement
‘I hope Prime Minister Sharon will positively respond to Bush’s call
and stop all settlement activities, because this is the key to
everything, I believe,’ Sa’eb Ereikat, Minister at the Palestinian
Authority cabinet and head of the negotiation team.
Ereikat added that the two-state solution will be in jeopardy if Israel
resumes the settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian
territories of the West Bank and continued building the wall.
Bush, who received the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in his Texas
ranch on Monday, supported Sharon’s position to keep major settlement
blocs in Israel’s hand in the framework of any final status talks.
‘The position of the government of Israel, and I stress that this is
Israel’s position, is that the large settlement blocs will remain in
Israeli hands under any future agreement,’ Sharon said.
Sharon is planning to annex the West Bank settlement blocs into Israel
in exchange to disengaging from the Gaza Strip, with an American
guarantee made in Sharon-Bush’s summit in April 2004.
‘Prime Minister Sharon is showing strong visionary leadership by taking
difficult steps to improve the lives of people across the Middle East –
and I want to thank you for your leadership,’ Bush said. ‘I strongly
support his courageous initiative to disengage from Gaza and part of
the West Bank.’
Bush, however, asked Sharon to freeze the expansion of these
settlements and to remove the settlements outposts to avoid
contradictions with the Road Map.
‘I told the prime minister of my concern that Israel not undertake any
activity that contravenes road map obligations or prejudice
final-status negotiations,’ Bush declared. ‘Therefore, Israel should
remove unauthorized outposts and meet its road map obligations
regarding settlements in the West Bank.’