President Bush and Secy Rice come to Jerusalem today to celebrate Israel’s 60th and also keep up the diplomatic push for peace. A mantra in this effort has been that Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas are negotiating a “shelf agreement” in which the parties will come to terms on the core issues of “refugees, borders and Jerusalem,” but the agreement will stay on “the shelf” and not be implemented until conditions on the ground (such as the Palestinians eradicating terrorism) are suitable.
This approach is flawed from several perspectives, but even on its own terms, there was a troubling and unnoticed development just two weeks ago when Secretary Rice spoke to the American Jewish Committee. Dr. Rice stated; “I do not view this agreement as a shelf agreement.”
So, as President Bush comes to celebrate in Israel, not only does his administration seem to be backing away from things such as the famous Bush-Sharon letters of 2004, but shifting away from their more recently asserted rationales for abandoning the sequencing of the Road Map to peace.
President Bush has a rightfully proud legacy in his policies toward Israel, over the first years of his Administration, and it would be a tragedy if all this was undone in his last year.