RealNews

In Major Shift, Bush Endorses Sharon Plan and Backs Keeping Some Israeli Settlements

President Bush on Wednesday recognized Israel’s right to retain some West Bank settlements as part of any peace accord with the Palestinians as he formally endorsed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. He called the plan “historic” and “courageous.” In a major shift in American policy that was already angering many Arabs on Wednesday night, Mr. Bush said that Israel should not have to return to its pre-1967 borders, and that Palestinians and their descendants who lost their land in Israel in 1948 should eventually be settled in a Palestinian state, not back in Israel. The president’s pronouncement effectively ruled out any “right of return” by Palestinians. “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949,” Mr. Bush said in a news conference with Mr. Sharon in the Cross Hall of the White House. Full Story

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