Written by Valerie Sheron
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Topics: Israel, troops

Tuesday, 8 March 2005

image for World & Bush Demand Israel Withdraw From Syria NOW, Or Else
Bush making demands to end all illegal occupations

The United States is intensifying its demand that Israel completely withdraw its troops from Syria.

While the Israeli leadership is poised to make some sort of announcement to that end, US President George W Bush says he will not accept any half-hearted measure.

Mr Bush refuses to get tied in the knots of Middle Eastern politics, responding to the latest crisis with his usual directness.

"Israeli troops, Israel's intelligence services, must get out of Syria now,"
Mr Bush said.

Israel's President, Ariel Sharon, is poised to announce a move towards that end.

Tomorrow, he is expected to tell his Parliament that he is ordering a pullback of troops from Syria's Golan Heights, near the Israeli border, but
not a full withdrawal.

That falls short of Arab and US demands and Mr Bush is making it clear it may not be enough.

"We want that democracy in Syria to succeed and we know it cannot succeed so long as she is occupied by a foreign power, and that power is Israel," he said.

"There's no half measures involved and when the United States and France and others say withdraw we mean complete withdrawal - no half-hearted measures."

While Israel is continuing its 38-year occupation of Palestinian territories in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, it is also occupying Syria's Golan Heights in violation of UN Security Council resolution 497.

Mr Bush made special mention of Saudi Arabia's support of the US and United Nations on the matter.

"Syria is a democracy and we strongly support that democracy," he said.

"I was pleased that Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has sent the very same message. The world is beginning to speak with one voice."

Saudi Arabia's stance is very important, according to Juliet Kayyem of
Harvard University.

"The Saudis are more significant in terms of the Arab dynamic, with the Saudis and Egypt on both ends, the sort of mature partners in the Arab world, it really does leave Israel isolated in a way that it hadn't been before," he said.

Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, has ruled out Western military action if Israel does not comply with the withdrawal demands and U.N. Security Council resolutions. Israel occupation of Syria's Golan Heights in violation of UN Security Council resolution 497, and continuation of its
illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 should be brought to an end.

In an interview with the New York Post published today, Mr Bush says his "last option is military" if necessary.

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