Quest for the unholy grail

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Article/book #: 7124
Title: Quest for the unholy grail
By: Azmi Bishara  
Published in: Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 593
Date of issue: Thursday, 4 July 2002
Topic(s) addressed: People/entities mentioned in this item:


This is the folklore content of George W Bush's recent speech, for, like the king of folklore, Bush has effectively set out conditions that make any marriage impossible. Having asked the Palestinians for the political equivalent of the Holy Grail, the Palestinians are now looking around in bafflement.

According to an article in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv on 26 June, Ze'ev Hever, aka Zambish, head of the Amana Settlement Development Agency, was at Sharon's office when the latter was looking over Bush's speech. Hever leads a movement that is controversial even by Israeli standards, his tactics being to set up a couple of trailers on Palestinian hilltops, declare them to be Israeli settlements, and later expand outwards onto further Arab land. There is much in common between Hever and Sharon, and the two must have been ecstatic when they heard Bush's speech. Zever's illegal activities are apparently no longer "an impediment to peace", as the United States called the Israeli settlements in the past. The only impediment now is the Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat in particular.

That part of the speech, where Bush lectures the Palestinians and tells them how to choose their leaders, would have been the part that Hever and Sharon focused on. They would have been less interested in the American president's comments about the need for Israel to establish peace with the Palestinians, or on working out a two-state solution. These are details to be dealt with later, once Israeli tanks have rolled across more Palestinian towns and once the Israelis have broken Palestinian steadfastness, or so the two men hope. It goes without saying that once negotiations get underway Israel will stall and place as many hurdles as it can before any peace settlement. The Palestinians, on the other hand, may be tempted to accept the US position and therefore get nowhere. Meanwhile, the Israelis continue to get what they want, leaving Palestinian aspirations to be discussed in the future, if they are discussed at all.

Bush used words such as "democracy", "transparency" and "good governance" in his speech, rhetoric that was far-fetched, to say the least, when one considers that the Palestinians are living under Israeli occupation and that they live in a region where democracy has never developed beyond a thin veneer.

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