The confusing tangle regarding West Bank settlements continues to baffle all participants since apparently Palestinian leaders have a completely different interpretation from what the Israel believes was agreed upon at Annapolis. To add to mass confusion, no one appears clear at this point as to the position of President Bush. State Department spokesperson, Sean McCormack told reporters “I’m not going to get into interpretations at this point.” He said what was agreed upon at Annapolis will “play out over time” and eventually all parties will finally understand the exact nature of what they thought was a final understanding. Although both sides agreed to follow the road map, President Bush “changed the obligations that are spelled out in the road map,” according to former US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk.
The key issue that supposedly all accepted centered on expansion of West Bank settlements. The Palestinians assume Israel agreed to suspend future expansion of West Bank settlements since Bush stated his goal was “ending settlement expansion.” However, the government of Ehud Olmert’s interpretation is Israel can proceed to build further housing units as long as they don’t take new territory to do it. Olmert has stated he was instituting a freeze on new settlements, but so far this year 603 new housing units have been built in the West Bank. One can only wonder if George Bush ever grasps the importance of using precise language during diplomatic negotiations that all parties understand. Apparently, he doesn’t have a clue.