Bush blames Arafat for end of roadmap
By Mike Allen and Andy Mosher, September 19, 2003.
Camp David, Md. — Three months after relaunching his Middle East peace
efforts with a summit in Jordan, President Bush acknowledged Thursday that
the process was stalled and blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Speaking at Camp David with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at his side, Bush
departed from his usual formula of stressing the obligations of both Israel and
the Palestinians, saying Palestinians were responsible for the collapse of
progress amid renewed violence. Bush accused Arafat of undermining the anti-
terrorism efforts of former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who
resigned Sept. 6 after four months in office.
“His efforts were undermined, and that’s why we’re now stalled,” Bush said.
“Mr. Arafat has failed as a leader. . . . Prime Minister Abbas was undermined at
all turns by the old order — that meant Mr. Arafat.”
Bush said he was “still committed to peace, because I believe the vast majority
of people want peace,” and said he was “committed to the road map.”
He blamed the Palestinian side for the current impasse, saying: “. . . I’ll remind
those who focus on the road map that the first thing the road map said was
that there must be security in order for peace to advance, that there must be a
collective effort to fight off terror. Mr. Arafat has failed in that effort.”
The king was the first Middle Eastern leader Bush has met since Abbas
resigned, a development that came as a bitter disappointment for Bush and his
aides. The administration had backed Abbas fervently while refusing to deal
with Arafat. But Arafat remains popular among the Palestinian people.
“The people of the Palestinian territory must understand if they want peace,
they must have leadership who is absolutely 100 percent committed to fighting
off terror,” Bush said.
“It is very difficult to stay on a road to peace when there are terrorists bombing
and killing people,” he added. “That’s what must be stopped. In order for there
to be a peace, we must stop terror. And it requires a collective effort. All
people are responsible.”
Bush said the world looked forward to supporting an economically viable
Palestinian state but added, “The first thing that must happen is an absolute
condemnation and defeat of those forces who will kill innocent people in order
to stop a peace process from going forward.”