Thomas Friedman notes that Bush 41 “was ready to tell Israel and the Jewish lobby some very hard truths” and fears that Bush 43 is so “wrapped around the finger of Ariel Sharon that he indulged Israel into thinking it really could have it all.” Friedman acknowledges that 43’s hard-nosed stand against Arafat has moved the situation along quite nicely but fears that the Administration will not tell Sharon that Israel must give up the settlements and make some other concessions.
It is unclear why Friedman thinks we are on that road. While it is true that 43 is ideologically pro-Israel, he has publically come out in favor of a Palestinian state and laid out a road map for that to happen. For him to have urged Sharon to make concessions while his citizens were being murdered by Palestinian fanatics would have undermined the process, both because it would have legitimated terrorism as a tactic but because Sharon would rightly have ignored the plea. While I’m hardly a fan of Sharon, he is a far more reasonable partner than Arafat. There is no reason to believe that, if Arafat is truly out of the way, the Administration won’t now apply pressure on our ally to act in their own long term best interests. Not to mention ours.