President Bush is in Israel, and I want to share a few thoughts about the visit. First, it is good that he is visiting. This visit may be overdue. It is welcomed. That is because the parties to this conflict require intervention. If they did not, there would be peace by now. The president of the United States is a powerful figure who can only help peacemaking along.
Did the president contribute to progress in this region? That remains to be determined. Clearly, the president used powerful language in public and that is welcomed. Two days in a news conference in Israel, Bush reiterated his expectation for Israel to maintain its commitments (ala removing illegal outposts). Yesterday, at a news conference with President Abbas in Palestine, President Bush called for: "A vision that is much more hopeful than the status quo".
Asked why he does not insist Israel adhere to UN resolutions 242 and 338, Bush explained that this had not worked, and called "redefining the future for the Palestinians and Israelis." We create realities through words and President Bush used strong words to paint the possibilities in the Middle East.
I was impressed enough with the US president's language and commitment. President Abbas impresses with his commitment and determination to resolve the conflict. The onus is on the Israelis to be responsible, recognize what is possible, and fully live that possibility.