PM Olmert came and left… Now what?

Last Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with President Bush to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the violence in Gaza, and the way forward for addressing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  Although this meeting was an opportunity for real progress on these and other difficult issues, it failed to produce any significant indication of movement on the peace process or stemming the recent escalation of violence in Gaza.  This is despite the fact many asserted that the recent U.S. mid-term elections showed a determination among the U.S. public for new policies in the Middle East, including Israel.  In addition a recent poll highlighted by Brit Tzedek V’Shalom shows 2/3 of Israelis in support of negotiating with a Palestinian unity government. 

It is time for the Bush administration to engage fully on this issue.  In the past week alone, even as the violence in Gaza has increased, the Palestinians took steps towards formation of a unity government while Arab league foreign ministers met in an emergency session in Egypt to call for a new international peace conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

During their talks, President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert reaffirmed their shared commitment to the two-state solution, but there is still no actual movement toward that goal.  American commitment to the peace process will take more than statements of support.  It requires direct and sustained U.S. involvement.  CALME’s voice continues to be one that believes President Bush should seize this moment to vigorously pursue a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the fulfillment of two states.

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