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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 00:23 GMT 01:23 UK
Analysis: Bush's Mid-East vision
Colin Powell, George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld
Bush administration is divided over the Mid-East issue

Rarely has a speech been so eagerly awaited or so hotly debated before its delivery.

Middle East peacemaking is an issue that divides the Bush administration like no other area of policy-making.


To all intents and purposes the Palestinians have been asked to ditch Yasser Arafat

It is no secret that before the speech the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, had lobbied hard for a setting a firm timetable for Palestinian statehood.

Ranged against him were Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who both argued for strict conditions to be met before declaring US support for any Palestinian state.

In the end, after many last minute revisions, Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld appear to have won the President's ear.

The conditions the Palestinians have to meet are many - the timetable for statehood more a guideline than a deadline.

Questions raised

To all intents and purposes the Palestinians have been asked to ditch Yasser Arafat and to build a Western-style liberal democracy.


There was in the end more vision than road map

Israel's obligation to enter political negotiations with the Palestinians dependent on those reforms.

But if the president sided with his more conservative advisors he also raised as many questions as he answered.

Who will be the judge of whether the Palestinians have met the targets and to what extent is the president prepared to commit American resources to create the democracy he demanded?

In many ways that will be the measure of the president's sincerity.

Obstacles

Without continued and deep American involvement in the region, many critics are likely to argue that the president has laid out a vision for peace, he has little faith in ever seeing fulfilled.

In the short-term the Bush administration will now have to sell the plan to the Palestinians and their Arab supporters.

It won't be easy and is in many ways a task filled with irony.

As critics here have pointed out the Bush administration will be relying heavily on its undemocratic and authoritarian Arab allies in the region to sell Western-style liberal democracy to the Palestinians.

Overall, there was in the end more vision than road map.

Two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace but with the road once again strewn with the obstacles that have undermined all previous attempts to get there.

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President George W Bush
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24 Jun 02 | Middle East
23 Jun 02 | Middle East
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20 Jun 02 | Middle East
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