U.S. President Bush reiterated Monday his support of a Palestinian state, possibly foreshadowing a sharp dispute with Israel and its dominant Likud party.
"The president continues to believe that the best route to peace is through the creation of the state of Palestine and side-by-side security with Israel," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said in response to Likud's decision.
Fleischer affirmed Bush's continuing support for a Palestinian state in a meeting with reporters at the White House, while insisting he did not "comment in international domestic politics." "Every nation has its share of internal domestic politics," Fleischer said.
Palestinian leaders and Arab officials fretted that the vote by the Likud, although Egypt dismissed its long-term impact. In Jordan, government spokesman Mohammad Adwan expressed concern over the Likud decision. "Likud's decision means that this party is not concerned by the establishment of peace in the region or an end to the spiral of violence and constitutes an attempt to torpedo the peace process," he said.
Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara argued Sharon would no longer be able to make peace moves. "The vote is a bitter failure for Sharon ... who will of course remain head of the government but who will no longer be capable of undertaking any peace initiative in the coming months," Shara told reporters in Beirut after meeting with Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher of Egypt also dismissed the long-term impact of the Likud vote. "This decision by Likud has no meaning because a Palestinian state (does not depend) on a decision by Likud, but rather because the Palestinian people will build their own independent state," Maher said. "The decision has no value. It's just domestic election-related politics." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )