April 14 Letters

   In an exchange of correspondence with Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004, U.S. president George W. Bush made two specific declarations that were interpreted as marking fundamental changes in America's approach toward Middle East peacemaking and in U.S.-Israel relations. First, Bush declared: "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." This was interpreted as the acceptance by the United States of the idea of Israel's retention of a permanent, albeit limited, settlement presence in the West Bank in the context of a negotiated final peace agreement with the Palestinians. Second, Bush declared: "It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settling of Palestinian refugees there rather than Israel." From Israel's perspective, this statement effectively ended the Palestinian demand for the "right of return" of refugees to Israel.
   See also Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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