Palestinians Worried About Second Bush Term

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

(1st Add: Includes information on PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's phone call to President Bush.)

Jerusalem ( - Palestinians are worried about President Bush being re-elected for a second term in office, an aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat said on Wednesday.

Speaking on LCI television in Paris, where Arafat is hospitalized and undergoing medical tests, Leila Shahid, the Palestinian permanent envoy to Paris, said that Arafat -- like all Palestinians -- wants to see President Bush adopt a "policy of peace" rather than what she called a "policy of war."

Shahid said she was worried because during the last four years "the American administration has conducted a policy of war more than a policy of peace" and has "decided to put the peace process in a freezer" over the last four years.

"What worries me is that in this second term, the desire to see a new American president, a new government continuing the peace process is not being fulfilled," Reuters quoted Shahid as saying.

Bush, the first U.S. president to publicly back the creation of a Palestinian state, is viewed throughout the Arab world as being very pro-Israel.

Arafat called to congratulate Bush Wednesday on his victory, expressing hope that a second term will mean new life for the Middle East peace process, Mohammed Rashid, an aide to Arafat said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. Rashid is Arafat's financial adviser.

Arafat said he hopes the Bush administration will be "more engaged" in the process. The Palestinian leader "declares the readiness of the Palestinian leadership to cooperate and work with (Bush) to resume political efforts to bring about peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the president's vision" in the road map, the AP quoted Rashid as saying.

Bush's Middle East policy, the "road map" to peace, has been accepted by Israel, the Palestinians, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations as the only way to achieve peace.

The Bush administration has made numerous other attempts to jump-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, including President Bush's visit to the region for a three-way summit last year.

All the plans hinged on a cessation of Palestinian terrorism and violence and a dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure by the Palestinian leadership, which never happened.

Without giving any details, Shahid said in the television interview that there were large foreign-policy differences between Bush and Kerry.

PA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said recently that if Senator John Kerry became president, his administration would likely include several staff members from the administration of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, which would "be a good thing."

During Clinton's two terms in office, the U.S. administration engaged in an aggressive "peace process" known as the Oslo accords, which collapsed following a failed Israeli-Palestinian-US summit at Camp David in the summer of 2000.

Although Palestinians disputed the reason for the breakdown, Clinton publicly blamed Arafat for the failure of the summit, accusing him of refusing to accept the generous offers of then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Two months later, Palestinians launched the intifadah - a campaign of suicide bombings and terror attacks that have killed some 1,000 Israelis during the last four years.

Thousands of Palestinians also have lost their lives in battles against Israeli troops and from being caught in the crossfire.

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