ANNAPOLIS, Md. – In the pre-dawn hours, my car winds its way down the streets of this historic city toward the Naval Academy and the Annapolis summit. Precious fathers, mothers and grandmothers shiver in the cold darkness of the morning. Some of the men blow shofars and pray openly. Most hold signs printed with their pleas: “Don’t touch Jerusalem.” “Don’t touch the Bible land.” “Don’t touch prophecy.”
Unbidden tears slide down my cheeks, for I sense how desperate and hopeless they must feel. These who love Jerusalem are overshadowed by the high and mighty of the world: President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and foreign ministers from many Arab states. Among those are known terrorists who are being treated as honored diplomats.
This is the first international peace conference since the U.S. organized-Madrid Peace Summit at the end of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. It was during that debacle that I openly challenged former Secretary of State James Baker over Jerusalem. The names change, but the desire to offer up Jerusalem as the sacrifice to appease terrorists is as passionate as ever.
The Madrid Summit destroyed the economy of Israel. It caused the overthrow of the government as literally tens of thousands of Russian Jewish immigrants were forced to sleep in tents. Why? The U.S. froze $10 billion in loan guarantees that would have provided housing for these destitute men, women and children. Israel was ultimately forced to give up more than 80 villages and towns, i.e., Jericho, Hebron and Bethlehem.
Today, the vultures gather again, sensing that more of the City of David will be laid on the altar of sacrifice. President Bush has agreed to what is being called “The Final Status Plan” to divide Jerusalem before the end of his term in 2008. He has also demanded that Israel halt construction in the settlements for refugees. The plan is to turn those settlements over to the PLO.
The Saudis, of course, want the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to be able to move into Israel, not into the Palestinian Authority land holdings. The plan calls for Palestine to be a state within one year, with East Jerusalem as the capital. This “Final Status Plan” calls for vigorous, unceasing, aggressive negotiations that would end in the creation of a two-state region by the end of 2008.
It seems that the participants of the summit are trying to breathe life back into the Road Map plan introduced in 2003. When Abbas refused to implement the very first clause of the plan – to disarm the terrorist organizations – the plan died in utero.
The Saudis, of course, were overjoyed to hear President Bush’s comments during the summit. The Road Map, an invention of Saudi Arabia and the Arab League, was designed to force Israel to the bargaining table. Then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon related to me that he had asked for 14 amendments. Secretary of State Colin Powell flatly refused to include any of Sharon’s amendments. Phase Two of the plan as outlined was the dismantling of all terror organizations and their infrastructure. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, to name a few, would have been forced to turn over all illegal weapons and stop terror incitement.
Needless to say, Phase Two was not implemented by Abbas. Quite the opposite occurred: Hamas took over Gaza; Abbas’ own terror organization, Fatah and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades continue to kill Jews. (The latest murder was that of a 29-year old father of two from the village of Shavei Shomron, just days before the summit in Annapolis.)
The acceptance of this vile plan would turn Israel into a living hell. The Jewish people would be forced to live next door to a state controlled by Islamic fanatics such as Hamas. I am reminded over and over of the Scripture in Psalm 83:2-5:
For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You. …
I stand here now with this document in my hand – this “Agreement of Joint Understanding” to which both parties have pledged acceptance. This document, if followed, will result in the division of Jerusalem. I’ve asked myself how the U.S. government could partner with a terror organization responsible for thousands of terror attacks worldwide. How could President Bush cavalierly shake hands with the man responsible for the Munich massacre?
Is George W. Bush so consumed by his legacy that he would sacrifice Jerusalem and hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews to attain his goal? Israel would have to give up the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in East Jerusalem and evacuate most of the strategic West Bank, which would leave it vulnerable to rocket attacks in Tel Aviv and at its international airport.
What does the future hold for Israel? President Bush has indicated that Israel had “painful compromises” to make during the negotiations that were to begin immediately. I can tell you that Israel seemed very alone during the Annapolis summit. It greatly concerns me. Why? President Clinton attempted to divide Jerusalem in January 2001, before the end of his term of office. He almost succeeded. I believe those negotiations and Arafat’s subsequent rejection of Clinton’s offer led directly to the events of 9/11.
Now, President Bush is attempting to follow in Clinton’s footsteps. Bush’s advisers are likely telling him that this agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will affect his legacy in a most positive way. How wrong can they possibly be? Only time will tell.
Can the Palestinian crisis be resolved? YES!
I believe that the first action that must be taken is a rehabilitation package calling for the dismantling of the 59 U.N.-maintained refugee camps. The Arab world needs to provide resettlement, employment and housing for the refugees. This would be similar to what happened to the Jewish refugees throughout Europe and the Arab world in 1948.
Secondly, I would do everything to help Jordan grant citizenship to Arabs in the West Bank. I believe that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan should serve as their representative body. Jordan granted citizenship status to West Bank Palestinians until the late 1980s.
The Palestinians do not need more land; they need a life free of Islamic kindergarten camps that continue to instill hatred for the Jews into children at an early age.