Setting the Record Straight: President Bush Consistently Focused on Defining a Palestinian State
The Washington Post Inaccurately Claims The President Is "Scaling Back" Ambitions For Middle East Peace Process
"[O]ne report today suggested that the President is backtracking suggesting that the President had said that we would actually have a sovereign, final Palestinian state by the end of 2008. The President has never said that. We've been very clear that what 2008 should be used for is to help the negotiating parties focus on the big picture, but also get into some of the nitty gritty and very difficult issues, such as borders and settlements, that are going to have to be solved."
─ White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, 1/8/08
The Washington Post wrongly says President Bush is "already scaling back ambitions" for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by "saying now it may be possible to set only the 'definition' of a Palestinian state by the time he leaves office." (Jonathan Finer and Michael Abramowitz, "On First Trip To Israel, Bush Hopes To Inject Vigor Into Peace Talks," The Washington Post, 1/8/08)
The day of the Annapolis Conference, President Bush stated "a lasting solution will only occur" if the Israelis and Palestinians "agree on what the parameters of a state will look like." THE PRESIDENT: "A moment like today just doesn't happen. In other words, it requires work to lay the groundwork for what was a successful conference. And now the hard work between Israel and the Palestinians begin. And it's very important for the American people, at least, to understand that America cannot impose the solution. We can help facilitate, and we can push and listen and work with the parties, but a lasting solution will only occur if Israel and Palestine agree on what the parameters of a state will look like." ("Excerpts Of AP Interview With President Bush," The Associated Press, 11/27/07)
Several days later, President Bush reiterated his focus is on whether "Israelis and the Palestinians come to an agreement on what a state looks like." THE PRESIDENT: "The Annapolis Conference was a success because they wanted it to be a success. And it's to give them confidence and encourage them to come up with what a state will look like, to define that state so that people there in the region can have hope that this kind of a longtime conflict will finally come to an end, and the first step is the definition of a state. [T]here's years of animosity that have been built up between the parties and things don't change overnight. The question, however, is can Israelis and the Palestinians come to an agreement on what a state looks like? That's where my focus is. And I believe they can, Wolf. And it's an exciting opportunity for them."(CNN's "Late Edition," 12/2/07)
In December, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also argued that "an agreement that gives definition to a Palestinian state" is "what we need to stay focused on." SEC. RICE: "[I]t is also extremely important to keep moving with the negotiations because after all, we will finally resolve all of these issues about movement and access, we will resolve issues about a settlement, when there is an agreement that gives definition to a Palestinian state and that's what we need to stay focused on." (Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Interview With Hasan Muawad, BBC Arabic, Paris, France, 12/17/07)