Okay, this is DEBKAfile's Exclusive Report and so we're taking it with a grain of salt... but we're loving it.
The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas did not get much chance to lay down his usual list of demands and gripes in his talks at the White House with US president George W. Bush Thursday, Oct. 20. Instead, in contrast to the jovial mood of their joint news conference, Bush crushed his visitor’s hopes of a Palestinian state in the foreseeable future. “Not during my term,” the president declared firmly, according to DEBKAfile’s Exclusive sources Washington.
Abu Mazen is described as coming out of the meeting pale and shaken, with nothing to show for his Washington trip. Most of their 45-minute conversation was one-sided. Bush scarcely let Abu Mazen get a word in edgeways, cutting him short several times.
According to our sources, the US president laid down a new set of rules, unfamiliar to the Palestinians. In a word, no one will help the Palestinians if they don’t help themselves – and that goes for me, the US President, too. If you think you can disarm Hamas by letting them take part in elections, go ahead, but you are on your own. We think you are making a big mistake, but we don’t interfere. But there is a price to pay. A regime dominated by terrorists cannot expected to be treated as a democracy.
He reminded Abbas that he was the first American president to envision an independent Palestinian state and make it a strategic goal of his foreign policy, but the Palestinians had not risen to the challenge. He informed Abbas that to achieve statehood, they must meet three categorical conditions:
A. A Palestinian state must live in peace with Israel.
B. Peace alone is not enough. The Palestinians must demonstrate they are capable of being good neighbors.
C. The Palestinian state must be clean of terrorism.
As matters stand now, said Bush, I see no prospect of Palestinian statehood coming into existence before I leave the White House.
The US president said he continued to support the Palestinian leader. However, his terms were the reverse of what Abbas wanted to hear.
1. Final-status negotiations must not begin yet. (This knocked on the head Abbas’ most cherished goal which is to skip the road map preliminaries and jump to the final stage.)
2. Washington is holding back the timeline for progress towards Palestinian independence. (This was a stunning setback for Abbas’ plans and his standing at home.)
3. The Middle East road map for peace will not for now be activated. It will remain on paper as long as Palestinian “armed gangs” are in charge.
Abu Mazen tried to put in a word on Palestinian demands, such as the unresolved status of the Egyptian-Gaza border crossings, a direct, sovereign Gaza-West Bank link, a halt on the Israeli defense barrier and various complaints, but Bush brushed him off. . . .
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