Did the UNGA Bring a Shift in the Administration’s Policy?

As we all know by now, President Bush took center stage at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.  After speaking directly to the people of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Darfur, he turned to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and started out by reaffirming his commitment to the Roadmap.  He said, “The world must also stand up for peace in the Holy Land. I’m committed to two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.”  As his remarks regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict wound down, he announced, “I directed Secretary of State Rice to lead a diplomatic effort to engage moderate leaders across the region to help the Palestinians reform their security services and support Israeli and Palestinian leaders in their efforts to come together to resolve their differences.”

While the President’s statement recommitting his Administration to the Roadmap and his announcement that he is encouraging Secretary Rice to work toward a new coalition in the region may not have made headlines, the Los Angeles Times said in an editorial yesterday that the President’s speech does reflect a subtle shift in policy.  The Times says, “While this might sound like diplomatic boilerplate, it amounts to a subtle change in direction. In May, Bush seemed receptive to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposals for unilateral Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, a plan predicated on the idea that the road map had become irrelevant. Now the president has unfolded the map again and invited Palestinians to take advantage of it. Hamas should ‘serve the interests of the Palestinian people,’ Bush said. ‘Abandon terror, recognize Israel’s right to exist, honor agreements and work for peace.’ That may sound like a stern injunction, but it also offers Hamas a route to respectability.”

To read the full editorial, click here.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Middle East Peace, Two State Solution, U.S. Role, United Nations

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