Bush’s speech “fell short” say Muslims
A prominent national Islamic advocacy group today said President Bush’s speech outlining his vision for peace in the Middle East put too much emphasis on Palestinian concessions and too little pressure on Israel to act in accordance with international law.
In a statement reacting to the president’s speech, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
“There were a number of positive aspects to President Bush’s proposals for peace and stability in the Middle East. These positive initiatives include the demand for a freeze on Israeli settlement activity, increased
humanitarian assistance, an end to the Israeli occupation based on U.N. resolutions, and a call for freedom of movement for ordinary Palestinians. We also appreciated the president’s recognition of the ‘anger and despair’ brought on by Israel’s brutal occupation.
“The speech was a step in the right direction, but it fell short of offering a clear vision of the ultimate destination. Core issues such as the status of Jerusalem and existing Israeli settlements, final borders and
the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, were not addressed in a way that offers hope for a just and comprehensive settlement to the Middle East conflict. It was the failure to address these vital
issues that brought us to the current impasse.
“The right to freedom should never be conditioned on the whims of a hostile party and must not face a veto by any individual, group or government opposed to peace. It is up to the Palestinians themselves to choose their leaders in a free and independent political process. That leadership should reflect the hopes and aspirations of all Palestinians.
“Our policies in the Middle East should be based on American national interests and on universal values of freedom and justice, not on the political and religious agenda of an influential domestic lobby for a foreign government.”
Awad thanked the president for his statements in praise of Islamic culture and its contributions to world civilization. He said those comments were particularly significant given the current atmosphere of anti-Muslim rhetoric.