Karl Rove decided for Bush: Israel's red lines ignored, PA state without
Middle East Newsline - Jun 04, 2003
State Department Wins Against National Security Council in Road Map
[With thanks to www.mideastweb.org/mewnews1.htm ]
WASHINGTON [MENL] President George Bush has resolved a dispute within his
administration over U.S. strategy to establish a Palestinian state.
Administration officials and senior sources in Congress said Bush resolved
several issues that concerned U.S. policy to
establish an interim Palestinian state by the end of 2003. The officials
said the decisions concerned policy issues as
well as appointments to oversee the so-called roadmap. The roadmap, drafted
by Washington, the European Union, United
Nations and Russia, also envisions a Palestinian state with permanent
borders in 2005.
"There were some heated discussions within the top echelon of the
administration over the principles that would guide
the roadmap," an official said. "The debates were both between and within
agencies and the president resolved them on
the eve of his arrival in Sharm [e-Sheik] to meet with Arab leaders."
Most of the issues, the officials and congressional sources said, were
submitted to Bush's chief political strategist
Karl Rove. They said Rove, who engineered the Republican victory in Congress
in November 2002, has been granted major
input in U.S. foreign policy as part of an effort to prepare Bush's
reelection campaign in 2004. Rove accompanied the
president during the Sharm e-Sheik and Aqaba summits.
The administration officials and congressional sources said a key debate was
whether to link the establishment of an
interim Palestinian state to the elimination of Palestinian insurgency
groups by the Palestinian Authority as well as an
Arab commitment to stop funding such groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They
said officials in the Defense Department
and National Security Council said such a condition was vital to ensure that
a Palestinian state would not endanger U.S.
and Israeli interests in the region.
As late as Saturday, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz asserted that
Bush had maintained the linkage between a
Palestinian state and an end to insurgency groups. Wolfowitz said the issue
was a key element in Bush's pledge in June
2002 for the establishment of a democratic and peaceful Palestine.
"As President Bush said last June, the United States supports the
establishment of a Palestinian state if Palestinians,
in turn, embrace democracy, confront corruption and reject terror,"
Wolfowitz, addressing a security conference in
Singapore, said. "The roadmap lays the foundation for this state. It also
lays down markers for what Palestinians and
Israelis must accomplish."
But officials said Bush decided not to impose conditions for the
establishment of an interim state. They said that
instead Bush expressed his determination to achieve a Palestinian ceasefire
as well as an Israeli withdrawal from parts
of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Another issue that at one point divided the administration was whether Bush
should press Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin
Abdul Aziz to stop all Saudi funding to Hamas. Several officials had argued
that a halt in Saudi funding to Hamas would
help the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, who has pledged to
end Palestinian attacks against Israel.
The State Department rejected the proposal, officials said. They said
Assistant Secretary of State William Burns argued
that Riyad has taken significant steps to stop the funding of groups deemed
as terrorists and has allowed a U.S.
interagency team to monitor the investigation of the May 12 suicide strikes
Burns and other officials warned that raising the Hamas issue with Abdullah
could endanger other U.S.-Saudi cooperation
against Al Qaida. In the end, Bush decided not to press the Hamas issue with
Abdullah during their meeting on Tuesday,
"The Saudis told the president that they are making renewed efforts on the
fight against terrorism, including
particularly on the financing of terrorism," U.S. National Security Adviser
Condoleezza Rice told a briefing in Sharm
e-Sheik on Tuesday.
The administration also argued over the content of the communiques for the
summits in Sharm e-Sheik and Aqaba. Officials
said Pentagon and National Security Council aides wanted the communiques to
include the U.S. commitment to the
continuation of a Jewish state. They said the proponents, including several
leading House and Senate members, argued
that this would reassure Israel that Washington would reject a Palestinian
demand for the return of millions of refugees
and their descendants to their homes in Israel.
Bush, however, decided in favor of a recommendation by Secretary of State
Colin Powell not to include any mention of a
Jewish state in the summit communiques. Instead, Powell told a news
conference in Sharm that the United States envisions
Israel as a Jewish state alongside a "contiguous" Palestinian state.
"Israel, to live side by side in peace with Palestine, must be always seen
as a Jewish state," Powell said. "That has
implications, as we go forward, as to how we will negotiate some of the
difficult issues that remain in front of us."
Officials said the most heated dispute concerned the appointment of a
presidential envoy to monitor the roadmap. Ms.
Rice urged the president to appoint outgoing U.S. ambassador to India,
Robert Blackwill, as the U.S. monitor of Israeli
and Palestinian commitments to the roadmap. Blackwill is regarded as a
personal friend of Bush.
But Powell was said to have opposed Blackwill's appointment. Blackwill often
clashed with Assistant Secretary of State
Christina Rocca in the ambassador's support for Indian-U.S. defense
relations and the inclusion of Israel in a strategic
alliance with Washington and New Dehli.
Finally, Bush agreed not to appoint Blackwill and asked Powell for his
recommendation. Officials said Powell recommended
Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf, responsible for State Department
policy on nonproliferation. Wolf served in the
State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs under the
administration of President Ronald Reagan in
1987 and 1988.
"The struggle was basically over whether the National Security Council or
the State Department would be responsible for
the roadmap issue," an official said. "State won and it will largely
determine the tactics and pace of the process."