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October 25, 2004

Bush Flip-Flops on Israel

Listed in: Israel, Fact Sheets


The GOP and its representatives have worked overtime to direct American Jews away from the many parts of George W. Bush's record on Israel that are far from perfect. The fact is, George W. Bush has repeatedly flip-flopped on many essential elements of the pro-Israel agenda. To see the truth behind George W. Bush's biggest flip-flops on Israel, please read on.

Flip-Flop #1: Israel's Security Fence

Through his own words and the policies of his administration, the record clearly shows that George W. Bush opposed Israel's security fence through at least January of this year, despite his more recent support for it. According to the White House's own web site, Bush said on November 19, 2003, that Israel should "not prejudice final negotiations with the placements of walls and fences." In fact, Bush's concerns about the fence were so strongly felt that George W. Bush cut loan guarantees to Israel in part to punish Israel for constructing the fence, according to and the State Department briefing on November 26, 2003. And according to articles in The Forward on January 9 and January 16 of this year, George W. Bush was still continuing to oppose the fence in 2004; on January 9, the Forward wrote that the "...Bush administration ... does not approve of the fence." More recently, of course, George W. Bush and his supporters have sung a different tune.

Flip-Flop #2: Israel's Targeting of Terrorist Leaders

Following Israel's actions targeting Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin in March, White House spokesman Scott McClellan first said on-camera that "Israel has the right to defend herself." But then, according to a Reuters article on March 22, " off-camera comments minutes later, McClellan revised the White House position by adding, 'We are deeply troubled by this morning's actions in Gaza.'" The same rhetoric was echoed days later by the Bush Administration's Ambassador to the United Nations, who told the UN Security Council that "the United States was 'deeply troubled' by the killing of Sheik Yassin and believed Israel's action had escalated tensions in the region" (New York Times, March 26, 2004).

Flip-Flop #3: George W. Bush's Pledges to Prime Minister Sharon

Under the headline "President Bush retracts pledges to Sharon," Israel's Maariv newspaper reported in May that George W. Bush was stepping back from promises he made to Prime Minister Sharon regarding Israel's borders and the Palestinian right of return: "Despite his warm embrace of Sharon recently, US President George Bush is showing signs of capitulating in the face of pressure from Arab states. In a press conference held following his meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah today (Thursday), Bush called on Israel to withdraw from territories it captured in 1967. Bush also failed to repeat an earlier statement that Palestinian refugees will not be allowed to enter Israeli territory. 'The US will not determine the results of the negotiations,' he noted."

Just weeks later, Bush appeared before the largest annual pro-Israel gathering in the country and remained silent on his previous promises. The New York Jewish Week reported on May 21 that George W. Bush "never mentioned his April 14 promises to Sharon rejecting a Palestinian right of return to Israel and endorsing a permanent Israeli presence on portions of the West Bank, continuing diplomatic backpedaling that started with his recent promises to Jordan's King Abdullah."

Flip-Flop #4: Yasser Arafat -- Terrorist or Not?

While supporters of George W. Bush claim that he has always condemned Yasser Arafat as a terrorist, the fact is that well into his presidency, Bush refused to call Arafat a terrorist. The UPI wire service reported on April 1, 2002: "President George W. Bush on Monday said he would not label Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat a terrorist since the Arab leader remained engaged in peace negotiations despite a week of devastating suicide bombings within Israeli cities. 'We've got a plan that will lead to peace. It's a security plan called Tenet, it's a political plan called Mitchell. Both sides have agreed to this plan,' said Bush speaking to reporters in the Oval Office. The president said that Arafat's involvement in negotiating a peace settlement has prevented him from designating him a terrorist." In a familiar pattern, more recently, Bush sings a different tune on this score as well.

Flip-Flop #5: Prime Minister Sharon's Disengagement Plan

First, George W. Bush opposed Prime Minister Sharon's landmark disengagement plan; then he supported it. The New York Times reported on December 19, 2003, that "The Bush administration, responding coolly to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's announcement of a possible 'disengagement plan' in the West Bank, warned Israel on Thursday against taking unilateral step ... "

Flip-Flop #6: Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

Despite George W. Bush's promising at least three major American Jewish organizations in 2000 that he would begin moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem "as soon as I take office" (as he told AIPAC on May 22, 2000), and despite repeating that pledge in various public speeches at the time, he has consistently -- throughout his presidency -- waived the U.S. law that requires him to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on June 16th, 2004, "President Bush suspended moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel for six more months. The White House released a statement Tuesday announcing that the embassy would not move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for the next half year because of national security concerns."

And the list goes on. To see more regarding George W. Bush's less-than-perfect Israel record, please click here