Bush, George, W.

(1948- )
   President of the United States since January 2001. He avoided the path of intensive personal intervention in Middle Eastern affairs that had preoccupied his predecessor, William J. (Bill) Clinton. Nevertheless, Bush was soon drawn into the maelstrom of regional affairs by the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the war against Iraq (2003). On 24 June 2002, Bush fundamentally redefined the terms of reference of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship by declaring support in principle for an independent Palestinian state within the context of a negotiated two-state settlement and making U.S. support for that independent state conditional on the Palestinians' election of "leaders not compromised by terror." These terms of reference were subsequently incorporated into the Roadmap for Israeli-Palestinian peace endorsed by the Quartet. In his April 14 letters that were exchanged with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon in 2005, Bush made seemingly definitive statements of U.S. policy concerning the limits of Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories in a negotiated final agreement and the Palestinian "right of return."
   On 27 November 2007, Bush convened an international conference at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The declared goals of the Annapolis Conference were to signal international support for efforts by Palestine Liberation Organization chairman and Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert to commence a process of direct negotiations leading to the realization of Israeli-Palestinian peace based on the two-state formula envisioned by Bush in his June 2002 statement and to coordinate international support for efforts undertaken by Abbas and the Fatah-led PA to construct the institutions and culture for an independent and democratic Palestinian state. From 9-11 January 2007, Bush made his first visit to Israel since becoming president. He met with Olmert and with Abbis in Ramallah and expressed confidence that an Israeli-Palestinian agreement could be reached before he left office in January 2009.
   See also Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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