Bush Endorses Israel's Plan to Make West Bank Settlements Permanent; Lights Middle East Fuse
Interview with Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, conducted by Scott Harris
In a severe blow for efforts to re-start stalled Middle East peace negotiations, President Bush endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip while making several major Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank permanent. In an April 14 announcement at the White House, President Bush, with Sharon at his side, also rejected the right of millions of Palestinians and their families to return to homes and land they left during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.
In making his announcement, Bush angered Palestinians by taking away their right to negotiate these critical issues themselves. The agreement which Bush described as "historic" and "courageous," was viewed by many nations around the world as an abandonment of international law, which dictates that Israel must return to its prewar 1967 borders.
But just three days after the Bush-Sharon announcement, Israel's assassination of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, further infuriated Palestinians and prompted calls for revenge against Israel and the U.S. While Ariel Sharon, backed by President Bush, claimed the second assassination of a Hamas leader in a month as self-defense against terrorists, many nations around the world condemned it and expressed fears that the action will only accelerate a deadly spiral of violence. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the progressive Jewish magazine Tikkun, who assesses the possible consequences of President Bush's endorsement of the Sharon plan and the Israeli policy of assassinating its opponents.
Tikkun is sponsoring a Teach-In to Congress on Middle East Peace in Washington April 25 -27. Contact Tikkun by calling (510) 644-1200 or visit their website at www.tikkun.org
"Bush's Dramatic Shift in Mideast," by Helen Thomas, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 20, 2004
"The Ariel Sharon-George Bush Axis of Occupation," by Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun Magazine, April 14, 2004
"Creating a Bantustan in Gaza," by Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz newspaper, Tel Aviv, Israel, April 16, 2004
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