- We have reached a hopeful moment for progress toward the vision of Middle Eastern peace that I outlined last June.
Well, I suppose you could say there's always hope. But the headlines from the region have been an endless series of suicide-bombings and tit-for-tat raids.
The first thing after that which jumped out at me was Dubya's flat declaration that:
- As progress is made toward peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end.
That would be a bitter pill for Ariel Sharon, who is known as an architect of the Israeli settlements policy. Not that that's a bad thing -- I'm on record a year ago as calling that policy dumb, and I'm no fan of Sharon -- but calling for an end to settlements has to be done with delicacy no matter what, and particularly so when Sharon is in power. You'd hope that Sharon at least knew this was coming -- but Dubya said "the roadmap for peace" was developed in consultation with Russia, the EU, and the UN, conspicuously omitting any mention of the direct parties to the conflict.
(Note well that this is the roadmap for peace; just calling it another proposal would require a humility that doesn't seem to come naturally to Christians, at least those of Dubya's ilk).
The statement was short on details on the "roadmap"; it seems it won't even be presented to the parties until the Palestinian prime minister has been confirmed. Which is odd, as that individual won't have the authority to negotiate with the Israelis; according to the VOA, that remains with Arafat.
All in all, a strange performance...