"If you're asking me, am I nudging them forward -- well, my trip was a pretty significant nudge, because yesterday they had a meeting -- and by the way, the atmosphere in America was, nothing is going to happen, see, that these issues are too big on the ground; therefore, you two can't get together and come up with any agreements. You just heard the man talk about their desire to deal with core issues, which I guess for the uneducated on the issue, that means dealing with the issues like territory and right of return and Jerusalem. Those are tough issues -- the issue of Israeli security. And they're going to sit down at the table and discuss those issues in seriousness."
Now this statement might be innocuous but Bush said it again at his press conference with Abbas
See, the past has just been empty words, you know. We -- actually it hasn't been that much -- I'm the only President that's really articulated a two-state solution so far -- but saying two states really doesn't have much bearing until borders are defined, right of return issues resolved, Jerusalem is understood, security measures -- the common security measures will be in place. That's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a clear, defined state around which people can rally.
Bush repeated this statement again in a Channel 2 interview
Meanwhile in Israel National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley agreed to it too
Q Just to follow up, is the President basically, then, in terms of his expectations, is he expecting that some of the core issues that you -- you know, Jerusalem, borders, right of return -- they would not be deferred, that they would be settled -- in his mind, they would be settled as part of this definition that he was talking about?
MR. HADLEY: Yes, and the parties, yesterday, said that, as much, that they have said all issues will be on the table, that the negotiations will be addressing all of the core issues. They listed those issues. So this is the objective that the parties have set for themselves, the target, if you will, the objective of negotiating those issues before the end of 2008.
So is the Right of Return, aka the destruction of Israel now American policy? As Daniel Pipes has written;
The Palestinian “right of return” entered the lexicon of American policymakers in December 2006, when the Iraq Study Group Report urged the U.S. government to support Israel-Palestinian negotiations that addresses what it termed a “key final status issue.” That recommendation came as a mild shock, given that the “right of return” to Israel is transparently a code phrase to overwhelm Israel demographically, thereby undoing Zionism and the Jewish state, and so a notion never before a goal of official Washington.
A year later, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino adopted the term, though without much notice. Out of seemingly nowhere, she informed journalists at a press briefing on November 28, 2007 that “The right of return issue is a part of the road map and it's going to be one of the issues that the Israelis and the Palestinians have to talk about during … negotiations.”
Pipes goes on to document the three times Bush mentioned it on his trip to Israel and elsewhere as well. As Linda at Something and Half of Something has pointed out, the Jerusalem Post ran a story on the Right of Return and then removed it from the actual site and replaced it with a story that claims the Right of Return is not an issue. The Jpost is of course an organ of the Olmert government and it's not too hard to imagine a sharply worded email or phone call telling the editorial staff to knock it off because the issue isn't ready for release.
Olmert himself is floating a 50,000 man return trial balloon. It's safe to say that the real proposal multiplies that by at least a factor of ten for at least half a million. Rachel Neurwith meanwhile has been chronicling a media blitz promoting a Right of Return just in time for the conferences.
This makes sense because the usual way of doing things on the Arab side is that when Israel makes one concession, the Arab side moves on to the next phase of its demands. Olmert has conceded withdrawal and Jerusalem, the next stage is the Right of Return.
The Voice of America along with other outlets is reporting that the "refugees" are on the agenda at the talks.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Queria met at a Jerusalem hotel to discuss the core issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - borders, the status of Jerusalem, the issue of Palestinian refugees and Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Note of course that nothing is being discussed that the Palestinian Arabs have to actually do, such as stop the killing.