I don’t doubt for a minute that this wasn’t discussed in the Bush White House, heck they were taking other large groups of refugees without Congressional approval.
Olmert says details and numbers were discussed. Hadley says they didn’t get specific. Abrams says it never happened.
From the Jerusalem Post:
The idea of the US accepting 100,000 Palestinian refugees as part of a Middle East peace agreement was suggested by extremely senior figures in the Bush administration, not by Israel, sources close to former prime minister Ehud Olmert told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
The reference to “extremely senior figures” is assumed to relate either to president George W. Bush himself or to his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.
The sources spoke to the Post after Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said that the administration envisioned that the US would participate in refugee resettlement activities, but could not have known in advance how many refugees the US might have been able to take in.
In a speech in Tel Aviv on Sunday, Olmert said he had reached an agreement with the US on accepting 100,000 refugees. Hadley’s former deputy, Elliott Abrams, denied this on Monday.
According to Hadley, the Bush administration discussed with Israel how the international community could assist in implementing a peace agreement, including how it could help the Palestinian refugees. Ideas discussed included compensation to refugees or to countries such as Jordan and Lebanon that would take them in, and aid in resettling refugees outside the Middle East who wanted to leave the region.
Abrams: No President has that power? Really?
“In that connection, we envisioned that the US would participate in any refugee resettlement activities, along with others in the international community, but that anything the US would do would be done through our normal immigrations process,” Hadley said.
“Therefore, there is no way to know in advance the number of refugees that the US might have been able to take, should any refugees have wanted to come to the US.”
When he spoke, Hadley was unaware of Abrams’s flat denial.
“President Bush did not, I am sure, promise or pledge to take 100,000 Palestinian refugees,” Abrams said. “The president knew, as everyone in the White House knew, that no president has the power to make such a commitment.
“We have immigration laws and they don’t allow that kind of move by a president. He would have had to ask Congress to change our laws.
Moreover, we would never have committed to a specific number anyway, nor did Olmert ask us to or raise that number.”
Then answer me this? How could a lowly Asst. Secretary of State (Ellen Sauerbrey) make the committment to take 60,000 (a specific number) Bhutanese refugees without going to Congress? Bottomline, she did it and it can be done.
Of course if Bush and Rice did decide to bring that many Palestinians to the US, I’m guessing Congress would have gotten involved because of the huge firestorm of public opinion it would have created.
I’m thinking Olmert is closer to being right:
Olmert’s office reacted to Hadley’s comments the same way it reacted to Abrams’s – by saying that the commitment was made at a higher level.
We all know that it would never have happened because by removing the thorn (the so-called refugees) from Israel’s side, Islamic extremists would have lost their power. They need the ‘refugee’ problem to continue. And, besides UNRWA needs your money.
To learn more about this topic, visit our category ‘Israel and refugees,’ here.
Endnote: There was no talk of Congressional approval here when John Podesta and friends (citing earlier precedents) asked Obama to airlift 100,000 Iraqis.