June 25, 2004
Congress overwhelmingly approves Bush's position on
THE U.S. Senate yesterday
endorsed President George W. Bush's
positions on Israel, which state that it is
"unrealistic" to expect Israel to pull back to 1967
borders and that Palestinian refugees must be
settled in a future Palestinian state. The U.S.
House of Representatives adopted a similar
resolution the day before. Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon said the overwhelming support was one of
Israel's greatest achievements ever.
In a 95-3 vote, senators approved Bush's support
for Sharon's disengagement plan, which calls for a
unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip,
and the evacuation of isolated settlements in the
northern West Bank.
In adopting positions expressed by Bush in his
April meeting with Sharon, and in his April 14
letter of commitment to the prime minister, the
Senate's resolution stated that "it is unrealistic"
for any peace settlement between Israel and
Palestinians to require Israel to return to the
borders that existed before the 1967 Six Day
In addition, the resolution said a Palestinian
state would have to be part of a "just, fair and
realistic framework" for peace - with Palestinian
refugees settling there, not in Israel.
The Senate resolution said Palestinians must
stop "armed activity and all acts of violence
against Israelis anywhere," and must halt
Voting against the resolution were Senators
Robert Byrd (D-W.Va); James Jeffords
(I-Vt); and John Sununu (R-N.H). Senators
Richard Lugar (R-Ind), and John Kerry
(D-Mass) did not vote.
"No one should be naive enough to think this
resolution will move the (peace) process further
one centimeter," Senator Byrd said, according to an
Associated Press report.
The Senate's action came a day after the House
approved a similar measure by a one-sided 407-9
Yesterday Sharon called the House's adoption of
the resolution "a great day in the history of
Speaking at Likud Party headquarters, Sharon
said, "The bipartisan support which the president's
letter has won ... is without doubt one of the most
important diplomatic achievements Israel has known
since its foundation."
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom also
warmly welcomed the Congressional support. "This is
a very important decision which reflects not only
the commitment of the administration to Israel, but
of the Congress as well," he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed
Qurei (Abu Ala) condemned the vote as a
reversal of 30 years of U.S. foreign policy and
said it undermined Washington's ability to mediate
in the Middle East conflict.
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