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ARAB US RELATIONS - May 15 - Nuclear Arms For Iran 'A Betrayal'.

US President George W. Bush offers a peace prediction for the Middle East in which the enemies of the US faced a future of defeat. "This is a bold vision, and some will say it can never be achieved", Bush told Israel's parliament. The president is on a Middle East visit that will also take him to Saudi Arabia and Egypt and he said Washington stood by Israel in "firmly opposing" Iran's "nuclear weapons ambitions". Letting Iran acquire atomic arms, Bush said, "would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations". Tehran says its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity. Bush's gaze into the future was preceded by a helicopter flight to the biblical past for a tour of the Roman-era desert fortress of Masada, a symbol in Israel of Jewish fighting spirit and self-sacrifice in the face of powerful foes. "So as we mark 60 years from Israel's founding, let us try to envision the region 60 years from now", said Bush, whose popularity at home has been hurt by an unpopular war in Iraq. "Israel will be celebrating its 120th anniversary as one of the world's greatest democracies", he said, and "the Palestinian people will have a homeland, a democratic state that is governed by law, respects human rights and rejects terror". Bush said that "from Cairo to Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies". Iran and Syria "will be peaceful nations, where today's oppression is a distant memory". Al Qaida, Lebanon's Hizbullah movement and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas "will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognise the emptiness of the terrorists' vision", Bush predicted. In the West Bank, Abbas appealed for reconciliation and an end to Israeli colony building on the 60th anniversary of Israel's birth, which Palestinians mourn as the loss of their homeland in 1948. "Sixty years have passed ... It's time to end the Nakba for the Palestinian people", said Abbas. While Abbas urged continuing with peace talks until an agreement was reached, Hamas's "Nakba" message called on Palestinians to join the "resistance" against Israel and said Abbas should "abandon the illusions of negotiations". Palestinian political analyst Ali Jarbawi said Bush's speech showed he was siding with Israel. "He is not talking about a two-state solution", said Jarbawi of Birzeit University near Ramallah. "He is talking about a state of left-overs for the Palestinians". Internal conflict Almost half of the Arabs consider the internal conflict between Hamas and Fatah a bigger threat to the Palestinian cause than Israel, a recent poll revealed. The YouGov poll, which was commissioned by the Doha Debates - a forum described as designed for free speech in Qatar - also concluded that Arabs remain sympathetic to the Palestinians. "Nearly 40 per cent of Arabs think that the Hamas-Fatah conflict is a bigger threat to Palestinians than Israel", said a press statement quoting a YouGov poll commissioned by the Doha Debates, a forum for free speech in Qatar. The survey was conducted between April 21 and April 27 and covered the views of 717 people in the Gulf, Levant, North Africa, and Iraq. Furthermore, the survey also revealed widespread pessimism about the peace process. According to the results, a summary of which was sent to Gulf News, 60 per cent of Arabs across the region believe that the two-state solution is dead. Eighty-eight per cent do not accept that Israel wants peace. Meanwhile, the poll showed that "one in two Arabs has grown more sympathetic to the Palestinians over the past five years, while only one in five has lost sympathy".
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Date:May 17, 2008
Previous Article:ARAB ISRAEL RELATIONS - May 12 - Israel Says Peace 'Extremely Difficult' As Bush Prepares For Tour.
Next Article:ARAB US RELATIONS - May 11 - US Warns Israeli And Palestinian Leaders Over Stalled Talks.

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