Elon: Bush 'detached from reality'

NU/NRP chairman and author of 'Israeli Initiative' slams calls for Palestinian statehood.

elon 224 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
elon 224 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
On the eve of US President George W. Bush's visit to Israel, an MK is trying to drum up support for a new peace initiative - granting Jordanian passports to all Palestinians, dismantling the Palestinian Authority and abandoning any notions of an independent Palestinian state. The plan, drafted by lawmaker Benny Elon of NU/NRP and touted on billboards, Internet ads and YouTube, directly clashes with Bush's agenda for his coming visit - promoting a peace agreement that would see the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The Palestinians, Israel and Jordan all reject Elon's concept. "In his way, (Bush) is leading us to catastrophe," warned Elon, a resident of a West Bank settlement and a representative of Israel's religious settlers. In an interview with The Associated Press, Elon said he respected Bush's stand against Islamic extremists, but criticized him for being "disconnected from the reality" in Israel. Bush arrives Wednesday for a three-day visit in Israel and the Palestinian territories, hoping to help Israeli and Palestinian leaders move ahead with fledgling peace talks. Elon's plan calls for giving Palestinian refugees financial incentives to emigrate, granting Jordanian citizenship to the remaining Palestinians, and allowing Israel to retain full sovereignty over the West Bank. All Israeli settlements in the West Bank would remain in place, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's government would be shut down. Such an arrangement would essentially allow Israel to keep Palestinian territories while turning responsibility for the Palestinians themselves over to Jordan. The plan contradicts the formula for peace that has been accepted internationally as well as by the Israeli and Palestinian governments, which would see two sovereign states existing side by side. Elon's initiative was dismissed by Jordan when it was first proposed in October. Jordan ruled the West Bank from 1948 to 1967, when it lost the territory to Israel. In 1988, Jordan renounced its claim, saying Palestinians should decide their own destiny. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called Elon an "extremist," denouncing his plans as "racist ideas." "Denying the Palestinians' existence has only added to the complexities," Erekat told The Associated Press. Undaunted, Elon is now seeking new followers from a younger audience. Using a professionally produced mock movie trailer titled "The Last Fanatic," which Elon's representatives are posting on YouTube, Elon hopes to garner international awareness for his plan. The clip features Muslim extremists chanting slogans against Israel and the US and a would-be suicide bomber videotaping his final manifesto. Elon's plan changes their minds: The fanatics abandon their impassioned leader, the suicide bomber reconsiders and removes his belt of explosives, and all of them presumably decide to live their lives in peace and prosperity. Elon has close ties to evangelical Christians in the US, and his plan was endorsed by Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a figure identified with the conservative Christian right. Elon said no financial support for his costly campaign was coming from the Christian right, and that only Jews in Israel and the US were funding it.