President Bush "stands absolutely behind" the statements made by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice when she lauded as a great "legacy" the possibility of the United States helping bring into existence a Palestinian state.
In a response to a question from Les Kinsolving, WND's correspondent at the White House, Bush spokesman Tony Snow said the president stands behind Rice's recent comments to the American Task Force on Palestine.
The question to Snow was: "In Secretary Condoleezza Rice's speech last week to the American Task Force on Palestine, she said, 'I believe that there could be no greater legacy for America than to help bring into being a Palestinian state for a people who have been (humiliated too long).' My question, since the Palestinian Authority's President, Mahmoud Abbas, spoke out in Fatah with Arafat and funded the Munich massacre of the Israeli Olympic team, and wrote his Ph.D. thesis denying the existence of the Holocaust, how can the president agree with Secretary Rice that it would be a great legacy to have a Palestinian state run by Abbas and Hamas?"
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Snow said there wasn't a reference to a Palestinian state being run by Abbas and Hamas. "But on the other hand, Prime Minister Abbas has also demonstrated a willingness to pursue democracy and work directly with Israel."
WND had asked whether the president believes that the American Revolution should be compared to Hamas, which has Article 15 calling for the destruction of Israel, and Article 7, calling for the killing of Jews?
"No," Snow said.
The issue arose when Rice gave a keynote speech at the Task Force on Palestine a week ago. Her remarks were condemned by the Zionist Organization of America as the "most pro-Palestinian Arab, anti-Israel speech in memory by a major U.S. Administration official."
During that speech she compared the Palestinian movement to the American Revolution and implied the comparison of Palestinian Arab leaders to America's Founding Fathers.
"I know that sometimes a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel must seem like a very distant dream. But I know too, as a student of international history, that there are so many things that once seemed impossible that, after they happened, simply seemed inevitable," she said. "I've read over the last summer the biographies of America's Founding Fathers. By all rights, America, the United States of America, should never have come into being."
"By saying this, Secretary Rice is implying a comparison of Yasser Arafat and Hamas leaders to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson," said the Zionist Organization of America's statement.
"We are deeply distressed by Secretary Rice's deeply troubling speech pandering to Arab Americans and other Arabs by making a series of false declarations," said ZOA National President Morton A. Klein. "This speech is surely at odds with an Administration that claims it is 'the best friend Israel ever had.' If President Bush does not support the themes expressed in this speech, we urge him to make that publicly clear by distancing himself from it."
The Zionist organization said Rice praised the Palestinians as being committed to a better future but ignored the "major cause of the problem being the (Palestinian Authority) regime's promotion of hatred and violence against Jews in their media, textbooks and speeches."
"By suggesting that the Palestinians simply seek a state of their own, not the destruction of another people's state which also happens to be a close American ally, Secretary Rice falsely dignifies the Palestinian extremist agenda and suggests its fulfillment would be a sublime event worthy of the American Revolution," the group said.
Rice also referred to the "humiliation of occupation," but ZOA noted that the land in question is not occupied, but disputed territory at a minimum.
"Secretary Rice did not acknowledge that Israel ceded half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza, the land on which the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established," ZOA said.
Further, ZOA said, in earlier periods of temporary calm before September 2000, there were no Israeli checkpoints, road-blocks, barriers, curfews and other restrictions of which Palestinians now complain. Those measures exist "solely and as a direct consequence of the Palestinian terrorist campaign since September 2000 that has resulted in the murder of 1,500 Israeli men, women and children and the maiming and injuring of thousands more."
"When asked by President Bush at the Aqaba summit last year to state publicly that he accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, Abbas refused to do so," ZOA noted.
The group also noted that Rice discussed the recent U.S. increase in "direct assistance to the Palestinians to $438 million a year."
"It is simply inappropriate for the Bush Administration to provide financial assistance to them courtesy of the American taxpayer. U.S. funding for Palestinians sends only one message – that the Palestinians need not change, that their goals and terrorist conduct is not a problem. By doing this, the U.S. takes out of the equation the one piece of leverage that it holds over the PA," ZOA said.
"The Zionist Organization of America was founded in 1897 and is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States.