Bush Speech May Signal Shift on Mideast Policy

(Washington Post) Glenn Kessler - In his speech on postwar Iraq, President Bush signaled a shift in the administration's policy on the controversial issue of Israeli settlements, apparently embracing the Israeli government's view that substantial concessions by the Palestinians are necessary before Israel must begin to rein in the expansion of settlements in the territories. In his pivotal speech on the Middle East on June 24, Bush said: "Consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee, Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop." But Wednesday, Bush said, "As progress is made towards peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end." The differences may seem minor, but they could loom large in the high-stakes politics of the Middle East. Martin Indyk, a former Clinton administration official, said the Israeli government had been fearful the administration would attach conditions regarding the settlements to loan guarantees it is seeking to shield it from the effect of a war with Iraq. "They can breathe a sigh of relief," he said.

2003-02-28 00:00:00

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