Bush's biblical references rile Palestinians

Sunday, May 18, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

When US President George W. Bush punctuated his speech before the Israeli Knesset on Friday with biblical rhetoric reaffirming the Jewish people's right to the Land of Israel, the Palestinian Arabs betrayed the fact that they have no tolerance for Jewish sovereignty in the region at all, even if they speak of coexistence in front of international media.

In his address to Israeli lawmakers, Bush spoke of the "promise of God" for a "homeland for the chosen people," and said the "bonds of the Book" between Jews and Christians meant that America would always stand by Israel's side.

Bush also described Israel's and the United States' battle against Hamas, Hizballah, Al Qaeda and Iran as a "battle of good against evil."

Average Palestinians across Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") were reportedly "shocked" by the president's words, while Palestinian officials said that Bush had effectively removed himself as an unbiased mediator in the peace process.

Whether in response to the Arab frustration, or because his words in Jerusalem were merely a show for Israeli consumption, Bush was far more conciliatory toward the Palestinians when he met with their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on Sunday.

Speaking to gathered leaders at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, Bush spoke of the Palestinians receiving the sovereign state they have long deserved, even if it is on the biblical lands he earlier acknowledged belong to the Jews.

Bush was later shown walking hand-in-hand with Abbas, whom the president reassured of his commitment to help establish a sovereign Palestinian state by the end of this year.

Israel, meanwhile, followed up the Bush visit by firmly reminding Abbas and his regime that there will be no final status peace deal leading to the creation of a Palestinian state if they continue to insist on the "right" to flood sovereign Israel with millions of Arabs who claim to be the descendants of Palestinian refugees.

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