As for Washington, until November 2007, the Bush administration argued that a Palestinian state could not be formed and its borders and powers could not be determined until after the Palestinian Authority purged terror elements from its own militias and defeated terror forces operating within its territory. President Bush’s landmark speech of June 24, 2002, in which he called for the Palestinians to choose new leaders who were not involved with terrorism, stated clearly that U.S. support for Palestinian statehood was conditional. The U.S. would not back a Palestinian state that was in any way supportive of terror or involved in terrorism.10
The road map peace plan, adopted by the Bush administration together with the other members of the Middle East Quartet (the EU, Russia and the UN) in 2003, is similarly explicit. The plan asserts that peace can be achieved between the Palestinians and Israel only with the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem. But it also asserts that this state can only be founded after the Palestinians defeat the terror forces operating within their society, end their incitement towards Israel’s destruction, and build the institutions of a working democracy. The Palestinian Authority is required by the road map to fight terror forces with the aim of defeating them in the first phase of the road map’s implementation on the ground. The road map foresees the establishment of the sought-after Palestinian state only in its third and final phase.11
In November 2007, however, the Bush administration broke with that view. Its new policy is founded on the belief that Israel and the Palestinian Authority must sign an agreement spelling out the borders and sovereign rights of the sought-for State of Palestine even before the Palestinian Authority fights—let alone defeats—the terror forces operating within its territory in Judea, Samaria and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made this point clearly in a press briefing on November 4, 2007. In her words: “The real breakthrough, it was actually a few months ago now, is that for a long time, if you remember, the argument was you couldn’t talk about the Palestinian state or core issues, which was in phase three [of the road map], until you had completed phase one [requiring the Palestinian Authority to fight terrorism], which got us into an extended kind of circular problem for a long time about phase one. Well… now we’ve broken through and they are, indeed, talking about… what’s in phase three, which is the establishment of a Palestinian state.”12
So over time, both the U.S. and Israel have come to view the prompt establishment of the Palestinian state regardless of the Palestinians’ willingness to accept Israel’s right to exist as the primary aim of their Palestinian policies. Revealingly, the urgency of the U.S. and Israeli calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state have increased in direct proportion to the radicalization of Palestinian society. The more radical Palestinian society becomes, the more intense the U.S. and Israeli desire to grant it sovereign statehood.