Bush and Sharon both utter the words 'Palestinian State'. But the real reality is they are both working furious to make sure it never happens for real, though it may happen in a way that suits both the Israelis and the US while further imprisoning and vanquishing the Palestinian people.
Sharon's hardline coalition rules out Palestinian state
By Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
March 1 2003
The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, virtually ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state under his hawkish new government just a day after the United States President, George Bush, pledged to broker a peace deal once he had dealt with Iraq.
Hours before his cabinet was sworn in on Thursday, Mr Sharon revealed to the Knesset that he had backed away from his commitment to the Palestinian state envisioned by Washington's "road map" for a settlement, as part of the deal to put together his government.
Mr Sharon told parliament that the road map was "a matter of controversy in the coalition" and had been dropped from the written agreement that drew far right, pro-settler and anti-religious parties into the Government. Mr Sharon will also have frustrated his US friends by promising to expand Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.
A Palestinian cabinet minister, Saeb Erekat, said Mr Sharon's speech killed any prospect of a peace process under the new government.
"He is saying there is no road map, no peace process. It's a government for the settlers, from the settlers and by the settlers. I think Sharon made it clear tonight that he wants the Palestinians to surrender to him. I hope President Bush will see the light."
The leader of the Labour opposition, Amram Mitzna, told the Knesset that the composition of the Government meant there was little chance of a breakthrough towards a settlement with the Palestinians.
Foreign diplomats in Israel were no less pessimistic. One source said: "The best hope is that this government will not survive for long."
Although Mr Sharon would clearly have preferred to avoid undermining Mr Bush, he appears to believe he had little choice if he was to put together a coalition. Mr Sharon indicated that talks might still take place with the Palestinians once a series of conditions had been met, including removing Yasser Arafat from power.
"Before returning to the diplomatic track there is a need for ending terror and incitement, for reforms within the Palestinian Authority to be implemented, and for replacing the existing leadership," Mr Sharon said.
However, he said that any agreements would be hostage to a vote by ministers come from parties hostile to a Palestinian state, some of whom advocate expulsion of Palestinians.
Mr Sharon repeated that he was ready to make "painful compromises" for peace.
The speech made clear that he had paid a higher price than was previously known for the support of the far right National Union, which advocates the "transfer" of Palestinians from the West Bank, and the pro-settler National Religious Party.
The coalition agreement commits the Government to the continued "development of existing Jewish settlements" in the occupied territories in place of Mr Sharon's circumscribed pledge to permit only "natural growth".