Daniel Pipes: Is Bush Mr. Palestine?

Roundup: Historians' Take

Called the best friend Israel ever had in the White House, George W. Bush is, in my view, worrisomely over-confident. He believes he has discovered the solution to a highly complex and subtle century-old conflict. But I expect major problems.

The cover of the Nov. 24 Economist shows a picture of Bush under a bold headline that reads"Mr Palestine." The subtitle deems him"The only man who could make it happen" – with"it," of course, being a Palestinian state. The title is especially provocative when one recalls that for many years Yasir Arafat was the one known as"Mr. Palestine."

But the nickname is apt, for soon after becoming president in 2001, Bush indicated an intention to sponsor the creation of a Palestinian state, this being his solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Since then, he has steadily made that his goal.

I have often criticized him for this, in particular after his major June 2002 speech. At present, I worry that his erroneous course will culminate in a misbegotten and perhaps disastrous parley at Annapolis. I foresee no good coming of this meeting and what follows it.

At best, circumstances will render it harmless, another forgotten"peace" gambit, like those of the the Geneva Accords, the Quartet, the Roadmap, the Mitchell Report, the Tenet Understandings, the Abdullah Plan, and the Zinni, Wolfensohn, Ward, and Dayton missions (and who knows how many plans the world and I have forgotten).

At worst (to quote myself from a month ago),"I see a possible crisis in U.S.-Israel relations of unprecedented proportions – worse than 1975 or even 1957." Such a crisis would not only harm Israel, but also the United States, and the Middle East as a whole.

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