Monday, April 11, 2005

Settling on the settlements

Chimpy met Ariel Sharon today.

Bush went out of his way to be vague about settlements. His handlers had given him a really short mantra from which he did not stray: “the road map says no expansion of settlements.” Also, “road map road map road map.” At no point did he say that Sharon’s plans for major expansions of the settlements contravened the road map, although he said it in such a way that you might think he had, which was the point. But when Sharon stood up and insisted that Israel will “meet all its obligations under the road map” but that he intends to build new housing to make the settlements contiguous with Jerusalem, Bush didn’t object. Clearly, Sharon will be allowed to interpret the road map to mean the exact opposite of what it says. In fact Bush said that “the United States will not prejudice the outcome of final status negotiations” and went on to do just that: “changes on the ground, including existing major Israeli population centers, must be taken into account in any final status negotiations.”

Sharon kept talking about an “opportunity” that shouldn’t be missed. By which he means the death of Yasar Arafat. A little hint: when you’re making nice with people, you don’t usually refer to the death of their leader as an opportunity.

When talking about the settlements, Sharon slipped in some wording as carefully chosen as Bush’s: Judea and Samaria.

And we’ll make Mahmoud Abbas jump this high.

Speaking of unnecessary expansion, here George offers Ariel cookies in the shape of the Israeli flag.

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