Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Bush arrives in Israel (JTA)
In Israel, President Bush stressed the importance of Israel's security as a Jewish state.

Bush landed at Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv shortly before noon Wednesday, kicking off his first visit as president to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"The United States and Israel are strong allies," the American leader said after a red carpet reception at the airport by Israeli political and religious leaders and by an honor guard. "The source of that strength is a shared belief in the power of human freedom. Our people built two great democracies under difficult circumstances.

"The alliance between our two nations helps guarantee Israel's security as a Jewish state," Bush added.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres delivered words of welcome for Bush, who is expected to use his three-day stay to try to bring the Jewish state and Palestinians closer to a peace accord.

The Israelis also intend to press Bush on the need to rein in Iran's nuclear program.

Bush is launching an eight-day tour of the region to reinforce his commitment in his final year in office to bringing about the outline of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Israel wants the Palestinians and Arab states to recognize its Jewish status as part of the process.

Why Is Bush in Israel? by Noah Pollak (Contentions)
There is, alas, vanishingly little to say about Bush’s visit to Israel, the most profound effect of which, I feel safe predicting, will be traffic jams in Jerusalem. I share Yossi Alpher’s take: “This visit, like Bush’s Israeli-Palestinian peace process in general, looks to be all hype and superficiality.” So instead of adding to the verbiage, I’m going to just post some links to what other people are saying.

Michael Oren: “Presidential visits are always characterized as ‘historic,’ but Mr. Bush’s trip to the Jewish state is marked by a lack of momentousness.”

The Economist speculates that Bush’s visit will provide an opportunity for the Israelis to get a read on where America’s commitment to thwarting the Iranian nuclear project stands. I am skeptical.

Amir Taheri: “The president’s tour can acquire a positive meaning only if it is used to shape a new alliance for reform, progress and democratization as the chief guarantor of Middle East peace and security.” I’m a big fan of Taheri’s, but really–is this even remotely plausible?

Jon Alterman, on the excellent new Harvard Middle East Strategy blog: “The Bush administration has been mugged by reality.”

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