Bush Speech, clashes in Gaza
- 24 June 2002.
BUSH CALLS FOR REMOVAL OF YASSER ARAFAT
WASHINGTON -- President Bush urged the Palestinians Monday to replace
Yasser Arafat with leaders "not compromised by terror" and to adopt
democratic reforms that could produce an independent state within three
"Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership so that a
Palestinian state can be born," Bush said at the White House.
In his long-anticipated speech, Bush said "reform must be more than
cosmetic changes or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo" if the
Palestinians are to fulfill their aspirations for a state alongside
Elections should be held by the end of the year for a legislature with
normal authority and there also must be a constitution, Bush said as he
set stiff conditions for a Palestinians state.
"When the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new
security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America
will support the creation of a Palestinian state, whose borders and
certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as
part of a final settlement in the Middle East," Bush said.
Senior administration officials said they envision the Palestinians
being able to reach provisional statehood within 18 months and full
permanent statehood in as soon as three years.
"With a determined effort, this state could rise rapidly - as it comes
to terms with its neighbors on practical issues such as security," Bush
Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine,
he said. "A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve
the security that Israel longs for."
Touching delicately on the thorniest issues, the president said
Jerusalem's future and the plight of refugees must be addressed. But he
offered no prescription.
Addressing the Palestinian people, Bush said he understood how they
could feel like pawns in the Middle East conflict. "You deserve
democracy and the rule of law," he said. "You deserve a life for your
children and an end to occupation."
The president made his remarks in an afternoon speech in the Rose
Garden, where he had announced in April that his administration would
try to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
Bush also demanded that Israel withdraw to positions it held on the West
Bank two years ago and to stop building homes for Jews on the West Bank
and in Gaza. Ultimately, he said, Israel should agree to pull all the
way back to the lines it held before the 1967 Mideast war.
Terms of a provisional state and its international functions were left
for negotiations between a reformed Palestinian leadership and Israel.
Bush said the United States, European Union, World Bank and
International Monetary Fund stand ready to help oversee reforms in
Israeli Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin, a close ally of Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon, interpreted Bush's formula as calling for the
Palestinians to make the first moves. Rejecting a provisional state,
Rivlin said Bush's proposal represented a "vision of bringing the
Palestinian people to democracy and reform, and then to negotiate."
A senior Palestinian official said only Palestinians can choose their
leadership - and already have in Arafat.
"President Bush must respect the choice of the Palestinian people," said
Saeb Erekat, an Arafat aide.
"Palestinian leaders don't come from parachutes from Washington or from
anywhere else. Palestinian leaders are elected directly by the
Palestinian people. President Yasser Arafat was directly elected in a
free and fair election," Erekat told CNN.
"The world and President Bush must respect the democratic choice of the
Reuters (with additional material by ArabNews). 24 June 2002.
ANNAN TO BUSH UP TO PALESTINIANS TO PICK LEADERS.
UNITED NATIONS, RAMALLAH and MOSCOW -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan on
Monday said the question of Palestinian leadership was up to the
"The issue of who should lead the Palestinian people is one that only
the Palestinian people themselves can decide," U.N. chief spokesman Fred
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat "remains their leader and it will be
up to them to decide through the fresh elections already announced who
will lead them in the future," Eckhard said.
Annan noted the Palestinian people had freely elected Arafat as their
leader in 1996 elections "that were widely welcomed by the international
community," according to Eckhard.
In a statement issued earlier in the day, Eckhard had said Annan was
"very disturbed" that Israel had moved its army back into West Bank
cities, saying such actions "significantly increase tensions in a
James Zogby, president of the American Arab Institute, called Bush's
speech "an absolute disaster."
"It pretended to be a compassionate speech, then canceled out compassion
with neo-conservative ideology, putting impossible obstacles in the way
of Palestinians realizing even the minimal goal of a provisional state,"
he told Reuters.
The speech "has set American diplomacy back decades ... I was frankly
astounded that the Pentagon actually won the day and the State
Department lost so badly in this," he added.
Henry Seigman of the Council on Foreign Relations, was also critical,
saying "the hard-liners did prevail" and the new framework will be
"entirely ineffective" in ending violence.
Russian President Vladimir Putin Told a press conference in the Kremlin:
"It would be dangerous and a mistake to remove (Arafat) from the
political arena because in our view that would lead to the
radicalization of Palestinian society."
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told CNN that Bush's call for a
new Palestinian leadership is unacceptable.
"I cannot find President Bush's statement acceptable," said Erekat
minutes after Bush made the call in a highly anticipated speech on his
vision for Middle East peace.
24 June 2002.
HAMAS SUPPORTERS, PALESTINIAN POLICE CLASH IN GAZA.ISRAELI GUNSHIPS
GAZA -- Clashes erupted between Palestinian police and Hamas supporters
on Monday after the Palestinian Authority placed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin,
the Islamic militant group's founder, under house arrest in Gaza City.
Witnesses said Palestinian police opened fire as the Hamas supporters
marched towards Yassin's house after police announced Yassin was under
house arrest. Police said the Hamas protesters had opened fire.
Two demonstrators were reported wounded. Gaza is considered the
stronghold of Hamas.
In other developments, Israeli forces killed six Palestinians in a
helicopter missile strike on a car carrying Islamic militants in the
Gaza Strip on Monday and surrounded Yasser Arafat in his headquarters in
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Monday Israel was
preparing "massive activities" against the Islamic militant movement
Hamas in the Gaza Strip after killing four of the group's members with a
Israeli security sources said the Gaza attack was part of Israel's
policy -- condemned internationally -- of killing militants it blames
for suicide bombings and shooting ambushes during a 21-month-old
uprising against Israeli occupation.
"We are preparing massive activities against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and
one could see the start of that this morning," Sharon told a
parliamentary committee. But he did not elaborate on military plans.